A Selected Chronological Bibliography of Biology and Medicine — Part I

13.75 Ga — 1809

Compiled by James Southworth Steen, Ph.D.
Delta State University

Dedicated to my loving family

This document celebrates those secondary authors and laboratory technicians
without whom most of this great labor of discovery would have proved impossible.

Please forward any editorial comments to:

John D. Tiftickjian, Jr., Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus of Biology
Delta State University
Box 3262, Cleveland, MS 38733
e-mail: jtift@deltastate.edu

 “Reason was born, as it has since now discovered, into a world already wonderfully organized, in which it found its precursor in what is called life, its seat in an animal body of unusual plasticity, and its function in rendering that body’s volatile instincts and sensations harmonious with one another and with the outer world on which they depend.” George Santayana (2119)

“In all human affairs … there is a single dominant factor—time. To make sense of the present state of science, we need to know how it got like that: we cannot avoid an historical account…To extrapolate into the future we must look backwards a little into the past.” John M. Ziman (2761).

 "The proper concern of natural science is not what God could do if he wished, but what he has done; that is, what happens in the world according to the inherent causes of nature." Albertus Magnus; Alberti Magni; Albert the Great (DE) (1039, 2075)

ca. 13.75 Ga (giga annum)

Georges Henri Joseph Édouard Lemaitre (BE) proposed that the universe began as a primal atom, an incredibly dense egg containing all the material for the universe within a sphere about 30 times larger than our Sun. This primal atom rapidly expanded for circa 10-20 Ga scattering matter and energy in all directions (565, 1401, 1486, 1487). This theory is now known popularly as the Big Bang Theory, a phrase coined by Fred Hoyle (GB) in a moment of facetiousness, during a radio broadcast (1250). Note: Alexander Friedmann (RU) proposed an expanding universe as early as 1922 (221).

On February 12, 2003, Charles L. Bennett (US) and a team from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland announced that the age of the universe is 13.7 Ga with a one percent margin for error (477, 569).

Eleanor Margaret Burbidge (US), Geoffrey R. Burbidge (US), William A. Fowler (US), and Fred Hoyle (GB) suggested that the heavier elements are formed in supernova explosions (427). 

Lawrence Hugh Aller (US) concluded that nucleosyntheses in stellar interiors generates carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, and other biogenic elements (63).

ca. 5 Ga

Anaxagoras of Clazomene (GR), in ca. 460 B.C.E., was the first to teach that all heavenly bodies were brought into existence by the same processes that formed the earth and that all of these objects are made of the same materials (81).

René Descartes (FR), in 1644, proposed the Nebular Hypothesis. It states that the solar system formed because, "God sent adrift a number of ‘vortices’ of swirling gas, and these eventually made the stars, which later changed themselves into comets, which in turn still later formed themselves into planets" (737). 

Thomas Chowder Chamberlin (US) and Forest Ray Moulton (US) developed the Chamberlin-Moulton planetesimal hypothesis to explain the origin of the Earth and other planetary bodies. In contrast to the nebular-gas-cloud theory this theory held that Earth formed by accretion of small, cold bodies (dust and asteroids) (482, 1728).

David J. Stevenson (US), Takafumi Matsui (JP), and Yutaka Abe (JP) reasoned that the Earth with its metallic core, highly convective mantle, molten surface, and massive steam atmosphere, formed as a direct result of accretion (19, 1626, 2333).

Immanuel Kant (DE) had proposed much earlier that the Earth formed by condensation (1347, 1348).

4.55 Ga

Clair Cameron Patterson (US), George Tilton (US), and Mark Ingham (US) used uranium decay in rocks from Earth and in meteorites that struck Earth to date our solar system at 4.55 billion years old (1860-1862).

ca. 4.4-3.9 Ga 

Samuel A. Bowring (US) and Ian S. Williams (US) identified the oldest rocks found on Earth as granite-like rocks called gneiss from the Acasta Gneiss Complex near Great Slave Lake, Northwest Territory, Canada. Their age was determined to be 4.03 Ga. The Isua Supracrustal rocks in West Greenland are a close second at 3.7 to 3.8 Ga. These rocks were dated using the uranium 235 to lead 207 method (343).

Alessandro Morbidelli (IT), John Chambers (US), Jonathan I. Lunine (US), Jean-Marc Petit (IT), Francois Robert (FR), Giovanni B. Valsecchi (IT), and Kim E. Cyr (US) proposed that as the solar system formed, Jupiter's powerful gravity perturbed asteroids to accrete into larger and larger objects resulting in terrestrial "embyros" near the size of Mars. These "embryos were tossed into very unstable elliptical orbits with the result that some collided with Earth thereby delivering the water that now fills Earth's oceans. These events occurred when Earth was about half its present size (1708).

Alexander Ivanovich Oparin (RU) postulated that a long chemical evolution in the oceans preceded the appearance of life on Earth (1794-1796). 

John Burdon Sanderson Haldane (GB-IN), Harold Clayton Urey (US) and John Desmond Bernal (GB) also forwarded the same hypothesis (249, 1083, 2463). This is often called the heterotroph hypothesis of the origin of life.

Preston Ercelle Cloud, Jr. (US) and Stanley Lloyd Miller (US) made the argument that the Earth’s primitive atmosphere was virtually devoid of oxygen (522, 1682).

Kenneth M. Towe (US) made a compelling case that the Earth’s early atmosphere contained significant quantities of oxygen (2435). 

John Desmond Bernal (GB), Peter C. Sylvester-Bradley (GB), S. Ichtiaque Rasool (US), Donald M. Hunten (US), William M. Kaula (US), Egon T. Degens (DE), Kenneth M. Towe (US), Edward Anders (US), Gustaf Olaf Arrhenius (SE-US), Bibhas Ranjan De (US), Hannes Olof Gosta Alfvén (SE-US), Anne Benlow (GB), Arthur Jack Meadows (GB), Manfred A. Lange (DE), and Thomas J. Ahrens (US) proposed that on the primitive Earth, impact accretions from extraterrestrial objects represented a significant source of atmospheric and biogenic elements (82, 121, 238, 250, 723, 1442, 1980, 2376, 2434).

James F. Kasting (US), James B. Pollack (US), and David Crisp (US) concluded that to keep the oceans from freezing on the primitive Earth a global "greenhouse" was necessary. This "greenhouse" would have offset the effects of a faint young Sun which was dimmer than today’s by 25-30%. Climate models confirm that 100-1,000 times the present atmospheric level of carbon dioxide would have been necessary to produce the ancient "greenhouse" effect (1352).

Arvid Gustaf Högbom (SE) suggested that Earth's primitive atmosphere resulted from gradual, episodic, or rapid volcanic out-gassing and weathering (1218).

Steffen L. Thomsen (DE), Claude J. Allègre (FR), Thomas Staudacher (FR), and Philippe Sarda (FR) determined that early catastrophic out-gassing occurred on the young Earth (60, 2419). This would have released significant amounts of nitrogen, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, methane, water, hydrogen, sulfur dioxide, and hydrogen sulfide.

James C.G. Walker (US) and Peter Brimblecombe (GB) found that abundant aqueous ferrous iron occurring in an oceanic hydrothermal system results in the precipitation of otherwise highly insoluble iron sulfides. This suggests that on the primitive Earth such a system would have served as a highly effective sink for hydrogen sulfide (2629).

Bernard J. Wood (GB) and David Virgo (US) presented evidence that Earth's primitive atmosphere was poised at a redox state buffered close to the fayalite-quartz-magnetite system, which is consistent with a neutral redox atmosphere and characteristic of basalts throughout the geological record (2734).

James F. Kasting (US), Donald R. Lowe (US), and John P. Grotzinger (US) used greenhouse calculations and the sedimentary record to suggest that prior to 3.8 Ga. the Earth’s surface was a warm (80-100˚C), with a bicarbonate-rich ocean at a pH perhaps as low as 6 (1055, 1352, 1534).

Juan Oró (ES-US), Aubrey P. Kimball (US), Richard Reed Fritz (US), and F. Master (US) synthesized amino acids from formaldehyde and hydroxylamine under primitive Earth conditions (1801).

Juan Oró (US), E. o (US), and Aubrey P. Kimball (US) synthesized adenine, thymine, amino acids, and other biochemical compounds from HCN in a primitive Earth environment (1799, 1800, 2330).

David W. Deamer (US) and Richard M. Pashley (AU) found membrane-forming non-polar molecules within the Murchison carbonaceous chondritic meteorite (722).

Keith A. Kvenvolden (US), James G. Lawless (US), Katherine Pering (US), Etta Peterson (US), Jose Flores (US), Cyril Ponnamperuma (LK-US), Isaac R. Kaplan (US), Carleton Moore (US) and John R. Cronin (US) examined the Murchison carbonaceous chondritic meteorite and found racemic mixtures of 74 different amino acids: Eight that are present in proteins, eleven with other biological roles (including, quite surprisingly, some neurotransmitters), and fifty-five that have been found almost exclusively in extraterrestrial samples (584, 1423, 1424).

Juan Oró (US), E. Stephen-Sherwood (US), Joseph Eichberg (US), and Dennis E. Epps (US) reported the synthesis of phospholipids under primitive Earth conditions (1802).

Joseph P. Pinto (US), G. Randall Gladstone (US), Yuk Ling Yung (US), Akiva Bar-Nun (IL), Sherwood Chang (US), and James F. Kasting (US) showed that photochemistry in an atmosphere containing carbon dioxide or a mixture of carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide yielded formaldehyde as a major product (165, 1351, 1904).

Stanley Lloyd Miller (US), in Harold Clayton Urey’s (US) laboratory, showed that a wet mixture of methane, hydrogen, and ammonia exposed to electrical discharge for a while, formed traces of organic compounds, including organic acids and amino-acids regarded as exclusive components of living things (1681).

William S. Brinigar (US), David B. Knaff (US), and Jui H. Wang (US) mixed a porphyrin, AMP, and inorganic phosphate with an imidazole group as a catalyst. Exposure of the mixture to ultraviolet or visible light resulted in the direct synthesis of ATP (370).

Christopher Reid (GB), Leslie Eleazer Orgel (GB-US), and Cyril Ponnamperuma (LK-US) have shown that random processes can form nucleotides and dinucleotides. They have also demonstrated the formation of ATP through the ultimate agency of solar energy (2004).

William R. Hargreaves (US), Sean J. Mulvihill (US), and David W. Deamer (US) found that fatty acids and glycerol combine spontaneously to produce phospholipids when heated to dryness at 65°C, as they might have been in an evaporating tide pool along a primitive sea (1106).

John Desmond Bernal (GB) proposed that one way in which organic subunits may spontaneously combine into larger molecules is by adsorption of the reacting molecules onto the highly ordered negatively charged aluminosilicates of clays. The clay surface performs a catalytic function (248, 249). 

Alexander Graham Cairns-Smith (GB), P. Ingram (), and Gregory L. Walker () also proposed that under primitive Earth conditions organic polymers could have condensed on extremely thin layers of negatively charged aluminosilicates separated by layers of water (437).

Sidney Walter Fox (US), Kaoru Harada (JP), and Allen Vegotsky (US) showed how amino acids can be heated under Earth conditions to form proteinoids or "thermal proteins," which when placed in water self-organize into microspheres or protocells, possible precursors of the contemporary living cell (921-924). 

Noam Lahav (IL), David White (US), and Sherwood Chang (US) experimentally produced peptide bonds under conditions where clay, water, and amino acids were subjected to cyclic variations in temperature and water content (1430). 

James R. Hawker, Jr. (US) and Juan Oró (US) synthesized peptides under plausible primitive Earth conditions (1133).

E. Stephen-Sherwood (US), A. Joshi (US), and Juan Oró (US) produced polynucleotide polymers under primitive Earth conditions (2329).

A. Mar (US), Jason P. Dworkin (US) and Juan Oró (US) synthesized uridine diphosphate glucose, cytidine diphosphate choline, other phosphorylated metabolic intermediates, the coenzymes adenosine diphosphate glucose (ADPG), guanosine diphosphate glucose (GDPG), and cytidine diphosphoethanolamine (CDP-ethanolamine) under primitive Earth conditions (1598, 1599).

Carl R. Woese (US), Francis Harry Compton Crick (GB), and Leslie Eleazer Orgel (GB-US) suggested that it would have been possible in a pre-DNA world to have a primitive replicating and catalytic apparatus devoid of both DNA and proteins and based solely on RNA molecules, i.e., an RNA world (581, 1797, 2723).

Jennifer A. Doudna (US) and Jack W. Szostak (US) found that the Tetrahymena ribozyme could splice together multiple oligonucleotides aligned on a template strand to yield a fully complementary product strand. This reaction demonstrates the feasibility of RNA-catalyzed RNA replications and supports the RNA world hypothesis (764).

Bruce Michael Alberts (US), Walter Gilbert (US), and Antonio Lazcano (MX) proposed that DNA and proteins were derived from RNA-based cells or cell-like units (46, 994, 1458).

Antonio Lazcano (MX) postulated that DNA evolved to replace RNA as the repository of hereditary information because, 1) DNA is much more resistant to harsh environmental conditions, 2) DNA is less prone to mutations which cannot be repaired, 3) cytosines in DNA are not as prone to spontaneously deaminate to uracil as they are in RNA, and 4) the duplex nature of DNA offered redundancy, which when coupled with repair mechanisms had a distinct advantage over simplex RNA without a repair mechanism (1459).

Carl R. Woese (US) originally described the progenote as the last common ancestor for archaebacteria (Archaea), eubacteria (Bacteria), and eukaryotes (Eucarya). It contained informational polymers, could synthesize polypeptides, and was still evolving a link between genotype and phenotype (2724, 2725).

Francis Harry Compton Crick (GB), Sydney Brenner (ZA-GB), Aaron Klug (ZA-GB), and George Pieczenik (US) proposed that the assignment of codons to particular amino acids was simply an historical accident, there being no special reasons why a particular codon stands for a given amino acid (582).

J. William Schopf (US), John M. Hayes (US), and Malcolm R. Walter (US), speculated that life on Earth might have arisen as early as 3.9 Ga. (2181).

Norman Harold Horowitz (US) and Jerry S. Hubbard (US) proposed how complex sequential metabolic pathways may have arisen as the result of selective pressure. The retrograde model.

Suppose that a contemporary cellular pathway makes a required substance such as an amino acid through the sequence A to B to C to D to E, in which A is a simple inorganic substance and E is the final organic product. Initially E was plentiful in the environment and was absorbed directly by primitive aggregates. Later, as E became scarce because of use, chemical selection favored pre-cells that could make E from D, a slightly less complex organic substance still found in abundance in the environment. As D became exhausted, selection favored assemblies that developed the pathway C to D to E, in which the even simpler substance C could be absorbed and used as raw material to make D. This process continued until the entire synthetic pathway, based on an essentially inexhaustible inorganic substance, was established (1248, 1249).

Karl O. Stetter (DE) concluded that the origin of life probably took place under conditions of high temperature because the hyperthermophiles are grouped around and occupy all of the deepest branches of the three kingdom phylogenetic scheme. He also concluded that an anaerobic hyperthermophilic autotroph was very likely the original cell type (2331).

Günter Wächtershäuser (DE) presented a hypothesis supporting chemoautotrophy as the first form of metabolism to appear within life forms on the primitive Earth. He argued that these life forms were coatings that adhered to the positively charged surfaces of pyrite, a mineral composed of iron and sulfur. The formation of pyrite from hydrogen sulfide provides a source of electrons as an energy source (2617).

ca. 3.5 Ga

Mark E. Barley (AU), John S.R. Dunlop (AU), Joseph John Edmund Glover (AU), David I. Groves (AU), and Roger Buick (AU) concluded from their studies of sedimentary rocks in Western Australia that near 3.5 Ga. there existed a shallow marine environment dominated by episodic island volcanism and hydrothermal activity (174, 1058).

Stanley M. Awramik (US), J. William Schopf (US), Malcolm R. Walter (US), and Bonnie M. Packer (US) found rock bearing 3.5 Ga. microfossils within early Archean (Gk. archaios=ancient) stromatolites (142, 2179, 2183). The microfossils were interpreted to be prokaryotes and represent the oldest fossils known (2182).

Harald Furnes (NO), Neil R. Banerjee (CA), Karlis Muehlenbachs (CA), Hubert Staudigel (US), and Maarten De Wit (NL) found tiny holes in volcanic glass. They believe microorganisms etched these tiny holes, ca. 3.5 Ga. (950). 

Norman Richard Pace, Jr. (US) indicated that the Archaea and Bacteria diverged from one another near the time that life arose on Earth. This changed the notion of evolutionary unity among prokaryotes. The phylogenetic data support the very early appearance of the eukaryotic nuclear line of descent. The Eucarya is as old as the prokaryotic lines Archaea and Bacteria. The idea that eukaryotes resulted from the fusion of two prokaryotes and are late arrivals on the evolutionary stage (1-1.5 Ga.) is incorrect (1821).

Carl R. Woese (US) proposed that the halophilic archaebacteria (Archaea) are a group of aerobic or microaerophilic organisms that evolved from a strictly anaerobic and nonhalophilic methanogen ancestor. Woese also constructed a trifurcated, unrooted, universal evolutionary tree in which all known organisms can be grouped in one of three major lineages: eubacteria (Bacteria), the archaebacteria (Archaea), and the eukaryotic (Eucarya) nucleocytoplasm. This is often referred to simply as the three-kingdom scheme (2725).

Mitchell L. Sogin (US), John H. Gunderson (US), Hillie J. Elwood (US), Rogelio A. Alonso (US), and Debra A. Peattie (US) determined that the diplomonad Giardia lamblia 16S-like rRNA has retained many of the features that may have been present in the common ancestor of eukaryotes (Eucarya) and prokaryotes (Archaea or Bacteria). They concluded that it represents the earliest-branching eukaryotic lineage (2273). 

Mitchell Lloyd Sogin (US) declared that some microbial lineages seem never to have had mitochondria and chloroplasts, so may have diverged from the eukaryotic (Eucarya) line of descent prior to the incorporation of the organelles (2272).

3.235 Ga

Birger Rasmussen (AU) discovered pyritic filaments, the probable fossil remains of thread-like microorganisms, in a 3,235-million-year-old deep-sea volcanogenic massive sulfide deposit from the Pilbara Craton of Australia (1979). From their mode of occurrence, the microorganisms were probably thermophilic chemotropic prokaryotes, which inhabited sub-sea-floor hydrothermal environments. They represent the first fossil evidence for microbial life in a Precambrian submarine thermal spring system, and extend the known range of submarine hydrothermal biota by more than 2,700 million years. Such environments may have hosted the first living systems on Earth, consistent with proposals for a thermophilic origin of life. See, Corliss, 1981.

2.7 Ga

Roger E. Summons (AU), Linda L. Jahnke (AU), Janet M. Hope (AU), Graham A. Logan (AU), Jochen J. Brocks (AU), and Roger Buick (AU) found molecular fossils of biological lipids preserved in 2,700-million-year-old shales from the Pilbara Craton, Australia. This makes these the oldest known biomolecules. The presence of abundant 2 alpha-methylhopanes, which are characteristic of cyanobacteria, indicates that oxygenic photosynthesis evolved well before the atmosphere became oxidizing. The presence of steranes, particularly cholestane and its 28- to 30-carbon analogs, provides persuasive evidence for the existence of eukaryotes 500 million to 1 billion years before the extant fossil record indicates that the lineage arose (385, 2357).

2.5 Ga

The Proterozoic Era (Gk. proteros=early; zoe=life) extended from 2.5 Ga. to 544 Ma. It is considered to represent the most recent Era of the Precambrian Time.

ca. 2.1 Ga

Preston Ercelle Cloud, Jr. (US) proposed a working model of the primitive Earth in which he related atmospheric-geologic-biologic history of the Precambrian (521).

Stanley A. Tyler (US) and Elso Sterrenberg Barghoorn (US) reported the discovery of fossil microscopic organisms in an outcropping of mid-Precambrian rocks called the Gunflint Iron formation near lake Superior in Ontario. Most of these fossils resemble present day bacteria and cyanobacteria. This was the first indisputable evidence of Precambrian life (2453). Barghoorn, Tyler, and Preston Ercelle Cloud, Jr. (US) later confirmed these findings and discussed their significance (172, 520).

Roger Mason (GB) Tina Negus (GB) and other school children discovered in Charnwood Forest, England the Precambrian fossil remains of what may very well be the oldest known multicellular animal (later named Charnia). Trevor D. Ford (GB) reported this discovery. The position of the clade for this organism in the tree of life remains uncertain (903).

Jonathan B. Antcliffe (GB) and Martin D. Brasier (GB) note that Charnia is both temporally and geographically the most widespread Ediacaran fossil (93).

Guy M. Narbonne (CA) and James G. Gehling (AU) report that the greatest abundance of specimens of Charnia, which are also the oldest reliably dated Ediacaran fossils, are found along the southeast coast of Newfoundland (1750).

Mary L. Droser (US) and James G. Gehling (AU) believe they have found the earliest fossil evidence for sexual reproduction in Funisia, an Ediacaran "animal". Its relationship to other animals is unknown (767).

Other Precambriam fossil sites include: the Fig Tree Group, Africa; the Bulawayan Formation, Africa; the Gunflint Iron Formation, Minnesota/Canada; the Belcher Group, Hudson Bay; Bitter Springs, Australia; and the Ediacaran Sites, Australia.

Tsu-Ming Han (US) and Bruce N. Runnegar (AU-US) found fossils of the multi-cellular Grypania spiralis (probably an alga) in the 2.1 Ga. Negaunee Iron Formation in Michigan, U.S.A. (1100).

Malcom R. Walter (US), Du Rulin (US), and Robert Joseph Horodyski (US) had previously discovered multi-cellular fossils (c.1.4 Ga.) in old Greyson Shale, lower Belt Supergroup, in Montana, US, and from the similarly aged Gaoyuzhuang Formation, upper Changcheng Group, in the Jixian section, Northern China. The organism was identified as Grypania spiralis, a coiled ribbon-like creature. It was judged to most likely have been a multi-cellular eukaryotic alga (2636). Shale is rock formed by condensation of layers of clay or mud, along with phytoplankton and other debris, deposited at the bottoms of lakes or ocean basins.

Konstantin Sergejewitsch Mereschkowsky (RU) proposed the theory of the symbiotic origin of the eukaryotic cell and introduced the term symbiogenesis to signify the emergence of new species with identifiably new physiologies and structures as a consequence of stable integration of symbionts. It stated that the chloroplast and mitochondria of eukaryotic cells had their origins from endosymbiotic cyanobacteria and aerobic bacteria, respectively, whose ancestors were once captured and incorporated by a primitive, anaerobic, heterotrophic host. Many others would later refine this theory (467, 468, 1374, 1375, 1604, 1666).

ca. 2 Ga

J. William Schopf (US) Elso Sterrenberg Barghoorn (US), Morton D. Maser (US), and Robert O. Gordon (US) found microscopic formations that looked very much like traces of cyanobacteria in 2 billion year old rock called Gunflint chert. The find was near Lake Superior in Canada (2180). Cherts are rocks composed of minute interlocking grains of silica, occurring as the mineral quartz (SiO2).

Elso Sterrenberg Barghoorn (US) and J. William Schopf (US) discovered fossils of microorganisms in stromatolitic cherts of the Neoproterozoic Bitter Springs Formation of the Amadeus Basin of Central Australia (171, 2178).

Other Precambriam fossil sites include: the Fig Tree Group, Africa; the Bulawayan Formation, Africa; the Gunflint Iron Formation, Minnesota/Canada; the Belcher Group, Hudson Bay; Bitter Springs, Australia; and the Ediacaran Sites, Australia.

1.8 Ga- 600 Ma (mega annum = one million)

Zh Zhang (CN) discovered large (40-200 micrometer) spherical microfossils 1.8 to 1.9 billion years old in sedimentary rocks from China. These microfossils were interpreted to be the earliest know eukaryotes (Eucarya) (2758).

ca. 1 Ga

The ultraviolet absorbing ozone layer in Earth's atmosphere began to appear. High in the atmosphere, some oxygen (O2) molecules absorbed energy from the Sun's ultraviolet rays and split to form single oxygen atoms. These atoms combined with remaining oxygen (O2) to form ozone (O3) molecules, which are very effective at absorbing UV rays. Most microorganisms had already evolved ways to protect themselves from ultraviolet radiation, e.g. DNA repair systems, ultraviolet absorbing pigments, and outer skeletons (2450).

Joseph Felsenstein (US) created evolutionary trees using rRNA sequences and a maximum likelihood approach. He concluded that the Plantae, Animalia, and Fungi along with two new evolutionary assemblages (alveolates and stramenophiles) diverged nearly simultaneously (849). Alveolates include dinoflagellates, apicomplexans, and ciliated protozoans. The stramenopiles include brown algae, labyrinthulids, chrysophytes, xanthophytes, diatoms, and oomycetes (1859). 

Elso Sterrenberg Barghoorn (US) and J. William Schopf (US) discovered fossils of microorganisms in stromatolitic cherts of the Neoproterozoic Bitter Springs Formation of the Amadeus Basin of central Australia (171, 2178). Cherts are rocks composed of minute interlocking grains of silica, occurring as the mineral quartz (SiO2).

Other Precambriam fossil sites include: the Fig Tree Group, Africa; the Bulawayan Formation, Africa; the Gunflint Iron Formation, Minnesota/Canada; the Belcher Group, Hudson Bay; Bitter Springs, Australia; and the Ediacaran Sites, Australia.

Gerard Peter Kuiper (NL-US) proposed that the Earth’s early atmosphere was rich in hydrogen and helium most of which would drift into space over the next 1 billion years and be replaced by a secondary atmosphere rich in heavier gases (1417).

ca. 700 Ma 

J. William Schopf (US), Bonnie M. Packer (US), Roger Buick (AU), and Stanley M. Awramik (US) presented evidence for a well-established community of oxygenic photosynthesizers (141, 423, 2183).

Charles Doolittle Walcott (US) identified pillar shaped masses of thinly layered limestone rock in Precambrian strata from the Grand Canyon in Western North America. Although he did not understand their significance as fossils he later interpreted these pillar like structures of limestone as fossilized reefs laid down by algae (cyanobacteria) (2621). These pillar-like structures called cryptozoon (hidden life) are now called stromatolites.

Charles Doolittle Walcott (US) described an important clue in the search for Precambrian life when he discovered fossils in Precambrian carbon-rich shales on the slopes of a prominent butte deep within the Grand Canyon. The shales belonged to what is known as the Chuar Group of strata, so, Walcott named the fossils Chuaria. Chuaria is now known to be an unusually large, originally spheroidal, single-celled planktonic alga, i.e., a megasphaeromorph acritarch. Walcott's specimens were indeed authentic fossils, the first true Precambrian organisms where cellular detail is recorded (2622).

ca. 600 Ma

Reginald Claude Sprigg (AU) discovered Precambrian metazoan fossils in the Pound Quartzite at Ediacara Hills and in the Flinders Ranges of South Australia. At the time of discovery he thought these fossils were from the Cambrian (2303, 2304).

Martin Fritz Glaessner (CZ-AU) and Mary Wade (AU) determined fossils in the Ediacara Hills of South Australia (Ediacaran fauna) to be late Precambrian in age, making them the oldest-known multi-celled organisms (999-1002).

590 Ma-550 Ma

The Cambrian Period of the Paleozoic Era extended from 590 Ma to 505 Ma.

The word Cambrian is taken from Cambria, the Latin name for modern Wales. Other fossil rich Cambrian sites include: Chengjiang, China; the Wheeler Formation in Utah; and the Croixan Series in Minnesota/Wisconsin.

With one exception (the phylum Bryozoa), every metazoan phylum with hard parts, and many that lack hard parts, made their first appearances in the Cambrian. However, Cambrian marine life was quite different from modern biotas; the dominant invertebrates with hard parts were trilobites, inarticulate brachiopods, archaeocyathids, and problematic conical fossils known as hyolithids. Many Early Cambrian invertebrates are known only from small shelly fossils - tiny plates and scales and spines and tubes and so on, many of which were pieces of the skeletons of larger animals (2200). Note: This publication initiated the early Paleozoic time scale. Many Cambian fossils are found in shale (a rock formed by condensation of layers of clay or mud, along with phytoplankton and other debris, deposited at the bottoms of lakes or ocean basins).

ca. 544 Ma 

The Phanerozoic Eon (Gk. phaneros=visible; zoe=life) extends from 544 Ma to the present. It contains three eras, the Paleozoic, the Mesozoic, and the Cenozoic.

Charles Doolittle Walcott (US), in 1909, discovered a rich assemblage of algae and invertebrate fossils from the Middle Cambrian Period of the Paleozoic Era in the Burgess shale located in Yoho National Park in the Rocky Mountains, near Field, British Columbia, Canada (2623).

Harry Blackmore Whittington (GB), in 1966, began re-examining Burgess Shale fossils originally identified by Charles Doolittle Walcott (US) as early as 1909. Over the next two decades, Whittington, with the assistance of his graduate students Simon Conway-Morris (GB) and Derek Briggs (GB), eventually overturned Walcott's theories that these organisms all belonged to modern phyla and proposed that most of the specimens are much more complex than originally believed, and have left no living relatives (545, 2684, 2685).

505 Ma

Charles Lapworth (GB), from his extensive analysis of graptolite fossils in Scotland, proposed the Ordovician System of strata to resolve the Murchison-Sedgwick conflict over their overlapping claims for their Silurain and Cambrian systems (1443). The Ordovician (from the name of an ancient British tribe, the Ordovices) Period of the Paleozoic Era extended from 505 Ma until 438 Ma. At the end of the Cambrian, sea levels fell, causing extinctions. It was in the Ordovician that the first animals with backbones arose, the Agnatha, these jawless fishes were the first animals with true bony skeletons. The Ordovician is best known for the presence of its diverse marine invertebrates, including, corals, graptolites, trilobites, brachiopods, and the conodonts (early vertebrates). A typical marine community consisted of these animals, plus red and green algae, primitive fish, cephalopods, corals, crinoids, and gastropods. More recently, there has been found evidence of tetrahedral spores that are similar to those of primitive land plants, suggesting that plants invaded the land at this time. 

The Ordovician Period ended with a mass extinction. About 25% of all families did not make it into the Silurian.

Classic fossil-bearing rocks of the Ordovician Period include: Whiterock Formation, Utah; and the Nevada Cincinnatian Series, Ohio/Indiana/ Kentucky.

439 Ma

Roderick Impey Murchison (GB) defined and named the Silurian Period commemorating the Silures, an ancient tribe that had inhabited the type area in the Welsh borderland region (1747). The Silurian Period of the Paleozoic Era lies between approximately 438 Ma and 408 Ma. No new major groups of organisms appeared at this time, with old groups flourishing or declining. It is at this time that our first good evidence of life on land is preserved, including relatives of spiders and centipedes, and also the earliest fossils of vascular plants. The insects arose in the Silurian, probably becoming the first animal forms to venture out of the water. Increased ozone from photosynthetic water plants provided protection from ultraviolet rays, making the terrestrial environment hospitable to those organisms that could prevent desiccation. Coral reefs made their first appearance during this time, and the Silurian was also a remarkable time in the evolution of fishes. Not only does this time period mark the wide and rapid spread of jawless fish, but also the highly significant appearances of both the first known freshwater fish as well as the first fish with jaws.

Classic Fossil-Bearing rocks of the Silurian Period include: Wadi Ram, Jordon; Brandon Bridge, Wisconsin; and the Brownsport Group, Tennessee. 

420 Ma

Dianne Edwards (GB) and E. Catherine W. Rogerson (GB) discovered Cooksonia pertonii near Brecon Beacons, England in 420 Ma rock (799, 800). William H. Lang (GB) had earlier positioned it as the earliest known land-living vascular plant found in England and one of the earliest in the world (1440).

ca. 414 Ma

Leif Størmer (NO) reported that arthropods likely invaded the land during late Silurian and early Devonian times (2342, 2343). 

408 Ma

William Lonsdale (GB), in 1837, suggested from a study of the fossils of the South Devon limestones that they would prove to be of an age intermediate between the Carboniferous and Silurian systems. It was Lonsdale who coined the term Devonian, commemorating Devon county, England (1528).

Adam Sedgwick (GB) and Roderick Impey Murchison (GB) presented researches on certain rocks in Devonshire, England, which had a distinctive fossil assemblage that led them to propose a new division of the geological time scale—the Devonian. Sedgwick and Murchison first used Devonian in a publication (2201). This represents the discovery of the Devonian Period—408 Ma to 360 Ma—of the Paleozoic Era.

The Devonian seas were dominated by brachiopods, such as the spiriferids, and by tabulate and rugose corals, which built large bioherms, or reefs, in shallow waters. Encrusting red algae also contributed to reef building. In the Lower Devonian, ammonoids appeared, leaving us large limestone deposits from their shells. Bivalves, crinoid and blastoid echinoderms, graptolites, and trilobites were all present, though most groups of trilobites disappeared by the close of the Devonian. The Devonian is also notable for the rapid diversification in fish. Benthic armored fish are common by the Early Devonian. These early fish are collectively called ostracoderms, and include a number of different groups. By the Mid-Devonian, placoderms, the first jawed fish, appear. Many of these grew to large sizes and were fearsome predators. Of the greatest interest to us is the rise of the first sarcopterygiians, i.e., the lobe-finned fish, which eventually produced the first tetrapods just before the end of the Devonian. By the Devonian Period, life was well underway in its colonization of the land. Before this time, there is no organic accumulation in the soils, causing these soil deposits to be a reddish color. This is indicative of the underdeveloped landscape, probably colonized only by bacterial and algal mats. By the start of the Devonian, however, early terrestrial vegetation had begun to spread. These plants did not have roots or leaves like the plants most common today, and many had no vascular tissue at all. They probably spread largely by vegetative growth, and did not grow much more than a few centimeters tall. These plants included the now extinct zosterophylls and trimerophytes. The early fauna living among these plants were primarily arthropods: mites, trigonotarbids, wingless insects, and myriapods, though these early faunas are not well known. By the Late Devonian, lycophytes, sphenophytes, ferns, and progymnosperms had evolved. Most of these plants have true roots and leaves, and many are rather tall plants. The progymnosperm Archaeopteris was a large tree with true wood. In fact it is the oldest such tree known, and produced some of the world's first forests. This rapid appearance of so many plant groups and growth forms has been called the Devonian Explosion. Along with this diversification in terrestrial vegetation structure, came a diversification of the arthropods.

Rocks rich in Devonian fossils include: Silica Shale in Ohio; Bundenbach, Germany; Cleveland Shale in Ohio; and the Rhynie in Scotland.

Kesava Mukund Lele (GB) and John Walton (GB) reported that the earliest plant stomata appeared in Zosterophyllum myretonianum. These were more like stomata found in modern moss sporophytes. The type found in vascular plants appeared 4 to 5 million years later (1485).

Tamara Anastasevna Ishchenko (RU) and R.N. Shylokov (RU) discovered fossil Marchantiales in Lower Middle Devonian material from the USSR. This provided evidence that some major bryophyte divisions were well established by the Lower Devonian and that the bryophytes in general must have played a part in the initial colonization of land by plants (1315).

Jennifer A. Clack (GB) and Michael I. Coates (GB) reported on fossil specimens of the Devonian fish-like Acanthostega gunneri they collected during 1987 in Greenland. Their work strongly suggested that legs appeared in tetrapods well before they abandoned water and not vice-versa as had been suggested by the popular dry pond theory first articulated by Alfred Sherwood Romer (US) (509, 524-526).

Hagen Hass (DE), Thomas N. Taylor (US), Winfried Remy (PL-DE), and Hans Kerp (DE) found fossil hyphae in association with wood decay and fossil chytrids and Glomales-Endogenales representatives associated with plants of the Rhynie Chert from the Devonian Period (408-360 Ma) (1126, 2016, 2017, 2393, 2394). These findings strongly suggest that the ability to form an arbuscular-mycorrhizal symbiosis occurred early in the evolution of vascular plants.

396 Ma

John William Dawson (CA) discovered fossil plant remains (Psilophyton princeps) in Middle and Lower Devonian rocks from the Gaspé Peninsula in eastern Canada (631, 632).

Thore Gustaf Halle (SE), Robert Kidston (GB), and William H. Lang (GB) later found similar confirming fossils in the Rhynie Chert and established the order Psilophytes (1093, 1376).

Harlan Parker Banks (US) subsequently split the Psilophytes into three divisions: Rhyniophytina (Rhyniophyta), Zosterophyllophyta, and Trimerophytina (Trimerophytophyta) (163). One of the most famous Early Devonian land plant localities is Rhynie in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. The Rhynie Chert is one of the most important fossil plant occurrences because it represents the oldest and most completely preserved terrestrial ecosystem. The Rhynie Chert has been radiometrically dated at 396 Ma (Pragian). Plant remains show excellent cellular preservation. Three groups of plants are represented: the Rhyniophytes, the Zosterphyllophytes and a lycopod.

360 Ma

The Carboniferous Period of the Paleozoic Era occurred from about 360 to 286 Ma. The term carboniferous comes from England and refers to the rich deposits of coal that occur there. These deposits of coal occur throughout northern Europe, Asia, and Midwestern and Eastern North America. William Daniel Conybeare (GB) and William Phillips (GB) named the Carboniferous Period in their Outlines of Geology of England and Wales (546). The term carboniferous is used throughout the world to describe this period, although it has been separated into the Mississippian (Lower Carboniferous, 360 Ma to 323 Ma) and the Pennsylvanian (Upper Carboniferous, 323 Ma to 286 Ma) in the United States. This separation was adopted to distinguish the coal-bearing layers of the Pennsylvanian from the mostly limestone Mississippian, and is a result of differing stratigraphy on the different continents. The Pennsylvanian was named in 1858 by Henry Darwin Rogers (US), and the Mississippian named by Alexander Winchell (US) in 1870; both these divisions were given system/period status in Geology by Thomas Chrowder Chamberlin (US) and Rollin D. Salisbury (US) (482, 2054, 2713). In addition to having the ideal conditions for the beginnings of coal, several major biological, geological, and climatic events occurred during this time. One of the greatest biological evolutionary innovations of the Carboniferous was the amniote egg, which allowed for the further exploitation of the land by certain tetrapods. The amniote egg prevented the desiccation of the embryo inside thus allowing the ancestors of birds, mammals, and reptiles to reproduce on land. There was also a trend towards mild temperatures during the Carboniferous, as evidenced by the decrease in lycopods and large insects and an increase in the number of tree ferns. 

Geologically, the Late Carboniferous collision of Laurussia (present-day Europe and North America) into Godwanaland (present-day Africa and South America) produced the Appalachian mountain belt of Eastern North America and the Hercynian Mountains in the United Kingdom. A further collision of Siberia and Eastern Europe created the Ural Mountains. 

The stratigraphy of the Lower Carboniferous can be easily distinguished from that of the Upper Carboniferous. The environment of the Lower Carboniferous in North America was heavily marine, when seas covered parts of the continents. As a result, most of the mineral found in Lower Carboniferous is limestone, which is composed of the remains of crinoids, lime-encrusted green algae, or calcium carbonate shaped by waves. The North American Upper Carboniferous environment was alternately terrestrial and marine, with the transgression and regression of the seas caused by glaciation. These environmental conditions, with the vast amount of plant material provided by the extensive coal forests, allowed for the production of coal. Plant material did not decay when the seas covered them and pressure and heat eventually built up over the millions of years to transform the plant material to coal.

Rocks rich in Carboniferous fossils include: Mazon Creek, Illinois, Joggins Formation, Nova Scotia, Edinburgh Coal Beds, Scotland, and Anthracite Coal Beds, Eastern United States.

Andrew C. Scott (GB) and William Gilbert Chaloner (GB) provided the earliest fossil record of a gymnosperm, conifers from the Upper Carboniferous (2198).

John Walton (GB) presented evidence of mosses and liverworts from the Carboniferous deposits in England (2637).

335 Ma

Stan Wood (GB) discovered the 20 cm long fossilized remains of Westlothiana lizziae in East Kirkton, West Lothian, Scotland (near Edinburgh). Tim R. Smithson (GB), Robert Lynn Carroll (GB), Alec L. Panchen (GB), S. Mahala Andrews (GB), Roberta L. Paton (GB), and Jennifer Alice Clack (GB) clarified its taxonomic status and concluded that it might be the oldest known reptile and thus the oldest known amniote (1831, 1856, 2270, 2271).

William Martin (DE), Alfons Gierl (DE), Heinz Saedler (DE) reported molecular evidence suggesting that angiosperm ancestors underwent diversification more than 300 Myr. ago (1618).

Kenneth H. Wolfe (US), Manolo Gouy (US), Yau-Wen Yang (US), Paul M. Sharp (US), and Wen-Hsiung Li (US) estimated the date of the divergence between monocots and dicots by reconstructing phylogenetic trees from chloroplast DNA sequences, using two independent approaches: The rate of synonymous nucleotide substitution was calibrated from the divergence of maize, wheat, and rice, whereas the rate of nonsynonymous substitution was calibrated from the divergence of angiosperms and bryophytes. Both methods lead to an estimate of the monocot-dicot divergence at 200 million years (Myr.) ago (with an uncertainty of about 40 Myr.). This estimate is also supported by analyses of the nuclear genes encoding large and small subunit ribosomal RNAs. These results imply that the angiosperm lineage emerged in Jurassic-Triassic time, which considerably predates its appearance in the fossil record (approximately 120 Myr. ago). They estimated the divergence between cycads and angiosperms to be approximately 340 Myr. ago, which can be taken as an upper bound for the age of angiosperms (2726).

286 Ma

The Permian Period of the Paleozoic Era (from Perm, a Russian province) lasted from 286 to 248 Ma. The Period was first defined by Roderick Impey Murchison (GB) (1748). The distinction between the Paleozoic and the Mesozoic is made at the end of the Permian in recognition of a large mass extinction of life on Earth. It affected many groups of organisms in many different environments, but it affected marine communities the most by far, causing the extinction of most of the marine invertebrates of the time. Some groups survived the Permian mass extinction in greatly diminished numbers, but they never again reached the ecological dominance they once had, clearing the way for another group of sea life. On land, a relatively smaller extinction of diapsids and synapsids cleared the way for other forms to dominate, and led to what has been called the Age of Dinosaurs. Also, the great forests of fern-like plants shifted to gymnosperms, plants with their offspring enclosed within seeds. Modern conifers, the most familiar gymnosperms of today, first appear in the fossil record of the Permian. In all, the Permian was the last of time for some organisms and a pivotal point for others, and life on earth was never the same again. 

The global geography of the Permian included massive areas of land and water. By the beginning of the Permian, the motion of the Earth's crustal plates had brought much of the total land together, fused in a supercontinent known as Pangea. Many of the continents of today in somewhat intact form met in Pangea (only Asia was broken up at the time), which stretched from the northern to the southern pole. Most of the rest of the surface area of the Earth was occupied by a corresponding single ocean, known as Panthalassa, with a smaller sea to the east of Pangea known as Tethys. 

Models indicate that the interior regions of this vast continent were probably dry, with great seasonal fluctuations, because of the lack of the moderating effect of nearby bodies of water, and that only portions received rainfall throughout the year. The ocean itself still has little known about it. There are indications that the climate of the Earth shifted at this time, and that glaciation decreased, as the interiors of continents became drier.

Rocks rich in Permian fossils include: Glass Mountains, Texas; Abo Formation, New Mexico; Kuperschiefer, Germany; and Glossopteris flora in Gondwana localities.

Andrei Vasilevich Martynov (RU) discovered the oldest undoubted Coleoptera (beetles) fossils in Upper Permian deposits in North Russia (1619).

Francis Wall Oliver (AU) and Dunkinfield Henry Scott (GB) discovered evidence for the seed of Lyginodendron, which led to the removal of the Cycadofilices from the Pteridophyta (ferns, horsetails, and club-mosses) and their inclusion with the gymnosperms (1789).

“We now know that the true ferns were only present in the coal measures in small and archaic forms (Coenopteridales) very unlike living ferns and that probably all the conspicuous fern-like leaves of that era belonged to seed plants” (1597).

248 Ma

Friedrich August von Alberti (DE) first used the term Triassic (Trias) when he named the three-division sequence of sandstone: 1) variegated (Bunter) sandstone, 2) shell (Muschelkalk) sandstone, and 3) Keuper sandstone (2568). The Triassic Period of the Mesozoic Era was a time of transition following a mass extinction of life, with the survivors of that event spreading and recolonizing. 

The organisms of the Triassic can be considered to belong to one of three groups: holdovers from the Permo-Triassic extinction, new groups which flourished briefly, and new groups which went on to dominate the Mesozoic world. The holdovers included the lycophytes, glossopterids, and dicynodonts. While those that went on to dominate the Mesozoic world include modern conifers, cycadeoids, and the dinosaurs.

Rocks rich in Triassic fossils include: the Moenkopi Formation, Arizona; Ischigualasto Badlands, Argentina; Newark Supergroup, Eastern U.S.A.; Djadochta, Mongolia; and the Chinle Formation, Arizona.

Thomas M. Harris (GB) presented excellent evidence of mosses in the Triassic of England (1109, 1110).

ca. 245 Ma

S. Blair Hedges (US) and Laura L. Polong (US), Ying Cao (JP), Michael D. Sorenson (US), Yoshinori Kumazawa (JP), David P. Mindell (US), and Masami Hasegawa (JP) reported in a study of both nuclear DNA and mitochondrial DNA that the turtle is anapsid and the closest living relative of the crocodile. The results apparently establish a phylogenetic joining of crocodilians with turtles and place squamates at the base of the tree. This work presents molecular time estimates to support a Triassic origin for the major groups of living reptiles and supports the previous findings of James E. Platz (US), J. Michael Colon (US), John A.W. Kirsch (US), Gregory Christian Mayer (US), Rafael Zardoya (ES), and Axel Meyer (DE) (450, 1143, 1386, 1911, 2754).

ca. 223 Ma

During the Carnian-Norian mass extinction event whole categories of animals abruptly vanished from the fossil record. Dinosaurs flourished, probably filling niches left empty when earlier successful types of animals suddenly were wiped out. Within a few million years, dinosaur remains accounted for 25 to 60 percent of the fossils. By 202 million years before the present, dinosaurs were diverse, sometimes gigantic, and dominant among land animals.

Paul E. Olsen (US), Dennis V. Kent (US), Hans-Dieter Sues (US), Christian Koeberl (AT), Heinz Huber (US), Alessandro Montanari (IT), Emma C. Rainforth (US), Sarah J. Fowell (US), Michael J. Szajna (US), and Brian W. Hartline (US) located a crater of the proper size and age to mark the landfall of an asteroid which could have had a devastating effect on many life forms. Manicouagan in Quebec, Canada is the site of the asteroid crater credited with eliminating competitors of early dinosaurs (1791).

213 Ma

Alexandre-Theodore Brongniart (FR) named the Jurassic Period Jurassique in 1829 for extensive limestone deposits in the Jura Mountains of Switzerland (390). This period was characterized by Great plant-eating dinosaurs roaming the earth, feeding on lush growths of ferns and palm-like cycads and bennettitaleans . . . smaller but vicious carnivores stalking the great herbivores . . . oceans full of fish, squid, and coiled ammonites, plus great ichthyosaurs and long-necked plesiosaurs . . . vertebrates taking to the air, like the pterosaurs and the first birds . . . this was the Jurassic Period, beginning 213 million years ago and lasting for 70 million years of the Mesozoic Era. 

Rocks rich in Jurassic fossils include: the Lias Formation, England; Navajo Sandstone, Arizona; Solnhofen Limestone, Germany; and the Morrison Formation, Colorado/Utah/Wyoming.

Albert Charles Seward (GB) and Jane Gowan (GB) found fossil records indicating that the ginkgo or maidenhair tree, Ginkgo biloba, has existed on Earth since the Liassic (early Jurassic) period meaning that it has inhabited earth longer than any other tree (8, 155, 610, 1550, 2236).

Randolph T. Major (US) found that resistance of Ginkgo biloba L. to pests accounts in part for the longevity of this species (1573).

ca. 180 Ma

Hermann von Meyer (DE) gave the name Archaeopteryx (Archeopteryx) to a fossil discovered in fine sandstone, Jurassic strata, of a quarry near Solenhofen, Bavaria in 1861. It appeared to be intermediate in character between reptiles and birds. The Natural History Section of the British Museum purchased the specimen that was described by Richard Owen (GB) (1815). In 1876 another fossil Archaeopteryx was discovered. This fossil, which now resides in the Humboldt Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin, is of such rare quality and importance that Dr. Alan Feduccia says it, “may well be the most important natural history specimen in existence, comparable perhaps in scientific and even monetary value to the Rosetta stone” (848, 2202).

ca. 150 Ma

George Reber Wieland (US) researched plant material derived from the Upper Jurassic and Lower Cretaceous beds of Maryland, Dakota, and Wyoming where he discovered the hermaphroditic nature of the bennettitean flower and recognized an affinity between the mesozoic cycadophyta and the angiosperms. The angiosperm with which he specially compared the fossil type was the Tulip tree (Liriodendron) and certainly there is a remarkable analogy with the magnoliaceous flowers, and with those of related orders such as Ranunculaceae and the water lilies (2691).

Thomas Henry Huxley (GB) was the first to propose that birds originated from dinosaurs. All dinosaurs he examined had strong ornithic characteristics in the tetraradiate arrangement of the ilium, ischium, pubis, and femur. He combined the reptiles and birds into Sauropsida (1299-1301).

Wyn G. Jones (AU), Ken D. Hill (AU), and Jan M. Allen (AU) reported the 1994 discovery by David Noble (AU) in the Wollemi National Park in Australia of Wollemia nobilis, a new living genus and species in the Araucariaceae. This type of pine may be 150 million years old (1336).

Karl F. Hirsch (US), Kenneth L. Stadtman (US), Wade E. Miller (US), and James H. Madsen, Jr. (US) discovered a fossilized dinosaur egg that contains the oldest known animal embryo of any kind, probably the embryo of an allosaur from about 150 Ma. X-rays of the egg detected an embryo less than 2 cm long (1210).

144 Ma

Jean-Baptiste-Julien d' Omalius d'Halloy (BE) first used the term Terrain Cretace (Cretaceous Period) in 1822 to describe chalk and greensand of northern France (1792, 1793). The Cretaceous is usually noted for being the last portion of the Age of Dinosaurs, but that does not mean that new kinds of dinosaurs did not appear then. It is during the Cretaceous that the first ceratopsian and pachycepalosaurid dinosaurs appeared. Also during this time, we find the first fossils of many insect groups, modern mammal and bird groups, and the first flowering plants. The breakup of the world-continent Pangaea, which began to disperse during the Jurassic, continued. This led to increased regional differences in floras and faunas between the northern and southern continents. The end of the Cretaceous brought the end of many previously successful and diverse groups of organisms, such as non-avian dinosaurs and ammonites. This laid open the stage for those groups which had previously taken secondary roles to come to the forefront. The Cretaceous was thus the time in which life as it now exists on Earth came together. Cretaceous deposits occur in Wealden of England and Belgium; Early Cretaceous of Niger in Africa; Late Cretaceous of Egypt; Cloverly Formation of Montana; Early Cretaceous of Mongolia; and Early Cretaceous lacustrine deposits of Lioning Province, China.

Zofia Kielan-Jaworowska (PL) and Rinchen Barsbold (PL) with their team and Mongolian paleontologists discovered during 1971 Upper Cretaceous entwined skeletons of a Protoceratops and a juvenile Velociraptor in the Gobi Desert, most likely locked in mortal combat (1378).

Henry Fairfield Osborn (US) described the Tyrannosaurus red that Barnum Brown (US) discovered in 1902 in Hell Creek, Montana (1804).

ca. 135 Ma

Kenneth A. Kermack (GB), Patricia M. Lees (GB), and Frances Mussett (GB) described the Early Cretaceous fossil Aegialodon dawsoni as the oldest known fossil to be a common ancestor to the marsupials and placental (1366).

ca. 120 Ma

Robert Ashley Couper (GB) presented fossil evidence for the earliest undisputed angiosperm pollen. It is from in the Bargeman stage (late early Cretaceous) (567).

ca. 100 Ma

Sushi Kumar (US) and S. Blair Hedges (US) presented evidence that at least five lineages of placental mammals arose more than 100 million years ago, and most of the modern orders seem to have diversified before the Cretaceous/Tertiary extinction of the dinosaurs (1418).

S. Blair Hedges (US), Patrick H. Parker (US), Charles G. Sibley (US), and Sushi Kumar (US) used a comprehensive set of genes that exhibit a constant rate of substitution to estimate the time at which avian and mammalian orders diverged. Their estimates of divergence times averaged about 50-90% earlier than those predicted by the classical methods, and show that the timing of these divergences coincides with the Mesozoic fragmentation of emergent land areas. This suggests that continental breakup may have been an important mechanism in the ordinal diversification of birds and mammals (1142).

83-70 Ma

Henry F. Osborn (US) designated the skull and claw (which he assumed to come from the hand) from a fossil collected in Mongolia as the type specimen of a new genus, Velociraptor. This name is derived from the Latin words velox ('swift') and raptor ('robber' or 'plunderer') and refers to the animal's cursorial nature and carnivorous diet. Osborn named the type species V. mongoliensis for its country of origin (1805).

Sofia Kielan-Jaworowska (PL) and Richen Barsbold (PL), with a team and Mongolian paleontologists, discovered the entwined skeletons of a Protoceratops and a juvenile Velociraptor in the Gobi Desert, most likely locked in mortal combat (1378). These are late Cretaceous animals.

65 Ma

The Palaeocene Epoch (meaning early dawn of the recent) starts both the Cenozoic Era and Tertiary Period some 65 million years ago and extends until 55 million years ago. Charles Lyell (GB) (1551) first used Tertiary as a period name. Following the mass extinctions at the end of the Cretaceous Period, mammals became the dominant land-living life form. By the Palaeocene the North American continent had attained roughly its modern outline. The climate was much milder and more uniform than at present. 

An enormous (200 km) crater form structure just north of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico is most likely the dino killing event that ended the Cretaceous. Luis Walter Alvarez (US), Walter Alvarez (US), Frank Asarco (US) and Helen Michel (US) in 1978 found convincing physical and chemical evidence that the great extinctions, which terminated the age of the dinosaurs, were related to the high-speed impact on Earth of a great asteroid estimated to have been about 10 km in diameter. The element of catastrophe was thus introduced into the studies of the evolution of life forms (70-72).

Alan K. Hildebrand (US), Glen T. Penfield (US), David A. King (US), Mark Pilkington (US), Z. Antonio Cam Argo (MX), Stein B. Jacobsen (US), and William V. Boynton (US) discovered the Chicxulub crater in the Yucatán Peninsula, supporting the asteroid impact theory first suggested in 1980 (1194). See, Hildebrand, 1991and Alvarez 1980.

It was during the Palaeocene that some common plant forms first appeared: the pines, the cacti, and the palms. 

During the Palaeocene, birds began to diversify and occupy new niches. Most bird types had appeared by the middle Cenozoic, including representatives of perching birds, cranes, hawks, pelicans, herons, owls, ducks, pigeons, loons, and woodpeckers.

Rocks bearing fossils from this epoch include: the Sentinel Butte Formation, Western U.S.; the Black Mingo Formation, S. Canada; and the Aquila Formation, Eastern U.S.

54.9 Ma

The Eocene Epoch (meaning dawn of the recent), named by Charles Lyell (GB), encompasses that time between approximately 55 million years ago and 34 million years ago (1551). It was during the Eocene that mammals took over the large-animal niches previously held by the dinosaurs. The Eocene was a time of warm climate and significant volcanism in the western U.S. and central Mexico. Sea levels were high, and much of the Southeastern United States was submerged. Europe was separated from Asia by a narrow strait or sea. By the Early Eocene, practically all of the modern eutherian (placental) mammal orders were present.

As commonplace as it seems now, it wasn't until the Early Eocene that grasses developed, and with them a host of grass-living animals. With new growth originating near the root, rather than at the tip of the plant, grasses are wonderfully protected from otherwise catastrophic damage caused by grazing and fire. They quickly regenerate and create a renewable resource for plant-eaters. Grass plains developed in those areas frequently ravaged by fire (from lightning strikes, for instance), and animals rapidly evolved to utilize this new environment.

Rocks rich in fossils from this epoch include: the Mussel Oil Shale, Germany; the Baltic amber; and the Green River Formation, Western U.S. The Green River Formation, found in various western states, provides wonderful and prolific samples of fossils. The area around Kemmerer, Wyoming provides world-class fish fossils of the Eocene age.

Kenneth A. Farley (US), Alessandro Montana (IT), Eugene M. Shoemaker (US), and Carolyn Shoemaker (US) presented geochemical evidence from a rock quarry in Northern Italy that a shower of comets hit Earth about 36 million years ago.

The findings not only account for the huge craters at Popayan in Siberia and at Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, but posit that they were but a tiny fraction of the comets active over a period of two or three million years during the late Eocene period (842).

32.8 Ma

The Oligocene Epoch (meaning few recent), named by Heinrich Ernst Bearish (DE), extended from 32.8 million years ago until 24.6 million years ago, and was a time of great significance in the history of American mammals (260). Mammals, which blossomed with the disappearance of the dinosaurs at the end of the Cretaceous, expanded both in range and variety during this epoch. The Oligocene is marked by the start of a generalized cooling, which culminated in the Ice Ages of the Pleistocene, but it still remained relatively warmer than today. The time also saw a reintroduction of volcanism. 

The first evidence for Australian marsupials comes from Late Oligocene rocks in Tasmania, although these animals may have already been here for a long time. See, K. A. Cormack, 135 Ma.

Rocks bearing fossils from this epoch include: the White River Formation, South Dakota; the Dominican Republic amber; and the Florissant Fossil Beds, Colorado.

24.6 Ma

The Miocene Epoch (meaning moderately recent), named by Charles Lyell (GB), extended from approximately 24.6 million years ago until 5.1 million years ago (1551). It was during the Miocene that a new ecological niche was filled, as grazing animals became common after the rise of grasses in the Oligocene. Both the grazers and their associated predators became fleet of foot to maneuver around the relatively protection-free grass plains.

Rocks bearing fossils from this epoch include: the Calvert Formation, Maryland; and the Agate Springs Fossil Beds, Nebraska.

21 Ma

In Western Nebraska the Niobrara River, now a mere trickle, was cutting valleys and laying down sand bars. The sediments carried by the river turned to rock over time, and the layer is now known as the Harrison Formation. A severe multi-year drought struck the region at some point, concentrating the animals around the few remaining waterholes. Animals died by the thousands. When, eventually, the rains reappeared, the carcasses of the animals were swept downstream, congregating in river bends. The mass of bones was buried in the sand, to be discovered years later (1878) by roaming explorers. Two small hills still hold the remains of thousands of animals that died many years ago.

18 Ma

Arthur Tindal Hopwood (GB), in 1931, discovered the fossils of three hominids near Lake Victoria, Africa. He would name them Proconsul in 1933 (1243, 1244). This was the oldest known ape found up to that time.

Wilfred E. Le Gross Clark (GB) and Louis Seymour Bizet Leakey (GB-KE), reported on a hominid skull and jaw found by Mary Douglas Nicola Leakey (GB-KE), in 1948, in Miocene deposits on Rising Island in Lake Victoria, Western Kenya. It was an excellent sample of Proconsul Africans (sometimes called Dryopithicus africanus or "woodland ape"). The specimen is approximately 16 million years old and a candidate for the distant ancestor from which all modern species of apes and all hominids—human beings included—evolved.

14 Ma

Louis Seymour Bizet Leakey (GB-KE), in 1961, discovered the upper jawbone of Kenyapithecus wicker (Rangwapithecus wicker) in 14 Ma deposits in Kenya (1466).

ca. 6.5 Ma

Michel Brunet (FR), Franck Guy (FR), David Pilbeam (FR), Hassan Taisso Mackaye (TD), Canossa Likius (FR), Djimdoumalbaye Amount (TD), Alain Beauvilain (FR), Cécile Blondel (FR), Hervey Bocherens (FR), Jean-Renaud Rotisserie (FR), Louis De Bonis (FR), Yves Coppers (FR), Jean Déjà (FR), Christiane Denys (FR), Philippe Duringer (FR), Véra Eisenmann (FR), Gongdibé Fanon (TD), Pierre Front (FR), Denis Geraads (FR), Thomas Lehmann (FR), Fabrice Lihoreau (FR), Antoine Louchart (FR), Adoum Mahatma (TD), Gildas Merceron (FR), Guy Mouchelin (FR), Olga Otero (FR), Pablo Pelaez Campomanes (ES), Marcia Ponce De Leon (CH), Jean-Claude Rage (FR), Michel Sapanet (FR), Mathieu Schuster (FR), Jean Sure (FR), Pascal Tansy (FR), Xavier Valentine (FR), Patrick Vignaud (FR), Laurent Viriot (FR), Antoine Jazz (FR) and Christophe Zollikofer (CH) discovered the skull of Sahelanthropus tchadensis in the Sahel region of Chad. The skull possesses both human and ape-like characteristics, with a chimpanzee-sized braincase, teeth that are human-like, and a foramen magnum placed further back than in a chimpanzee or gorilla. Based on the location of the foramen magnum, the French team suggested that this creature was bipedal (418).

ca. 6 Ma

Brigitte Sent (FR), Martin Pickford (FR), Dominique Gommery (FR), Pierre Mein (FR), Kiptalam Cheboi (KE), and Yves Coppers (FR) of The Kenya Paleontology Expedition (KPE) reported in December 2000 the discovery of what is almost certainly a new species of hominid at Kalsomine in Kenya's Baring district. It is called Orr Orin tugenensis, meaning original man from the Tugen Hills. The remains, found in 6 Ma rocks, include a left femur, pieces of jaw with teeth, isolated upper and lower teeth, arm bones, and a finger bone. Preliminary analyses suggest that this hominid, the size of a chimpanzee, was an agile climber and that it walked on two legs when on the ground. The tentative date of six million years indicate a date very close to the common ancestor of humans and chimpanzees, although this date may now need to be pushed back (1896, 2223, 2224).

5.8 Ma

Yohannes Haile-Selassie (US) reported new hominid specimens from the Middle Awash area of Ethiopia that date to 5.2-5.8 Ma and are associated with a wooded paleoenvironment. These Late Miocene fossils are assigned to the hominid genus Ardipithecus and represent some of the earliest definitive evidence of the hominid clad (1082).

5.1 Ma

The Pliocene Epoch (meaning very recent), named by Charles Lyell (GB), comprises a relatively short time between 5.1 and 2 Ma, and is the last epoch of the Tertiary Period (1551). The Pliocene saw general climatic cooling, with subtropical regions retreating equatorially. During this time, India collided with Asia and gave rise to the Himalaya Mountains. Significant in the fossil record of the Pliocene are the early hominid remains from Africa. Also, the North American three-toed horse Hipparion crossed the Bering Strait land bridge and entered Asia and Europe, while mastodons reversed the passage and entered the Americas. The hominid fossil record in Africa begins about 4 million years ago in the Early Pliocene, with representatives of the genus Australopithecus from Ethiopia and Tanzania. The australopithecine Homo hails was one of the later examples, surviving into the Early Pleistocene. Homo erectus (upright man) arose about one million years ago in the Pleistocene, giving rise to our own genus.

Rocks bearing fossils from this epoch include: the Hemphill Beds, Texas, US; Lake Turkana, Africa; Hadar, Africa; and Aetolia, Africa.

Elaine Morgan (US) proposed that man descended from apes that adapted to an aquatic environment then returned to a terrestrial lifestyle. Man is seen as retaining aquatic adaptations such as weeping, loss of body hair, bipedalism, face-to-face copulation, and the diving reflex (1714).

Vincent Sarich (US) and Allan C. Wilson (NZ-US) shook the human family tree when they claimed, based on immunological comparisons of serum albumens, that humans, chimpanzees, and gorillas had a common ancestor 5 Ma (2125).

ca. 4.4 Ma

Tim D. White (US), Gen Susa (ET), and Berhane Asfaw (ET) discovered hominid fossil remains of Ardipithecus ramidus at Aramis in Ethiopia dated to 4.4 Ma. Most remains are skull fragments. Indirect evidence suggests that it was possibly bipedal, and that some individuals were about 122 cm (4'0") tall (2682, 2683).

ca. 4.2 Ma

Bryan Patterson (US) and William W. Howells (US), in 1965, discovered but did not identify Australopithecus anamensis from a site on the west side of Lake Turkana in Kenya (1858).

Meave G. Leakey (GB-KE), Craig S. Feibel (US), Ian McDougall (AU), Carol Ward (US) and Alan Cyril Walker (GB-US) discovered Australopithecus anamensis at Kanapoi on the shore of Lake Turkana, Northern Kenya. The material consists of nine hominid dental, cranial and post-cranial specimens from Kanapoi, Kenya, and 12 specimens from Allis Bay, Kenya. Anamnesis existed between 4.2 and 3.9 Ma, and has a mixture of primitive features in the skull, and advanced features in the body (1469, 1470). Some anthropologists regard this skeleton as exhibiting the earliest ‘clear evidence’ for bipedalism.

ca. 4 Ma

John Desmond Clark (US), Berhane Asfaw (US), Getafe Assegai (ET), Jack W.K. Harris (US), Hero Kurashina (GU), Robert C. Walter (CA), Tim D. White (US), and Martin A.J. Williams (AU), in 1981, discovered fossil remains of Australopithecus sp., dated to 3.5 -4.0 Ma. These remains are the earliest evidence of Australopithecus from anywhere in the world and the earliest evidence of hominid bipedalism yet discovered (513).

Katherine Coffing (US), Craig S. Feeble (US), Maeve G. Leakey (GB-KE), and Alan Cyril Walker (US) described four-million-year-old hominids from East Lake Turkana, Kenya (529). 

ca. 3.8 Ma

Simon Easteal (AU) and Genevieve Herbert (AU) presented molecular evidence that humans and chimpanzees diverged 4.0-3.6 Ma. This post-dates the occurrence of Ardipithecus ramidus and the earliest occurrence of Australopithecus afarensis, suggesting that the common ancestor of humans and chimpanzees was bipedal and that the trait has been lost in chimpanzees but retained in humans (795).

ca. 3.5 Ma

Maeve G. Leakey (GB-KE), Fred Spoor (GB), Frank H. Brown (US), Patrick N. Gath go (US), Christopher Kiarie (KE), Louise N. Leakey (KE), and Ian McDougall (AU) announced the discovery of the hominid Kenyanthropus platypus identified from a partial skull found on the western shore of Lake Turkana in Northern Kenya. It is dated at 3.5 Ma. The size of the skull is similar to Australopithecus afarensis and Australopithecus africanus, and has a large, flat face and small teeth (1471).

ca. 3.26 Ma

Robert A. Broom (ZA) discovered the fossil remains of Australopithecus transvaalensis (Homo africanus) within Sterkfontein dolomitic limestone cave deposits, northwest of Krugersdorp, near Johannesburg, Transvaal, Republic of South Africa (393, 394). It was dated at ca. 3.26 Ma.

ca. 2.9-3.0 Ma

Maurice Taieb (FR), Yves Coppers (FR), Donald Carl Johanson (US), Jon Kalb (US), and Raymond Bonnefille (FR) discovered and described fossil remains of Australopithecus afarensis from the Hadar site in the Afar depression in the west central sedimentary basin, northeast of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (1332, 2383-2385). These specimens were dated to ca. 2.9-3.0 Ma.

Donald Carl Johanson (US), Maurice Taieb (FR), Tim D. White (US), and Yves Coppers (FR) discovered a female fossil hominid at Hadar, Ethiopia (Australopithecus afarensis) and named her Lucy. The discovery of Lucy established that hominids walked upright before developing large brains, overturning many long-held beliefs about hominid evolution. Australopithecus afarensis is considered to be the first human, but this is now being challenged by Maeve G. Leakey’s discovery of Kenyanthropus in 2001 (1331, 1334).

Donald Carl Johanson (US) and Tim D. White (US) discovered more specimens of Australopithecus afarensis (1333). Australopithecus afarensis had an apelike face with a low forehead, a bony ridge over the eyes, a flat nose, and no chin. They had protruding jaws with large back teeth. Cranial capacity varied from about 375 to 550 cc. The skull is similar to that of a chimpanzee, except for the more humanlike teeth. The canine teeth are much smaller than those of modern apes, but larger and more pointed than those of humans, and the shape of the jaw is between the rectangular shape of apes and the parabolic shape of humans. However their pelvis and leg bones closely resemble those of modern man, and leave no doubt that they were bipedal (although adapted to walking rather than running (1330).

Maeve G. Leakey (GB-KE) and Richard L. Hay (US) reported hominid footprints preserved in Pliocene ash deposits in the Laetolil Beds at Aetolia, Northern Tanzania. These footprints, discovered by the geochemist Paul I. Abell (US) in 1978, constitute the earliest evidence of bipedalism in the hominid fossil record. This hominid was very likely Australopithecus afarensis (1468).

Carol V. Ward (US), William H. Kimble (US) and Donald Carl Johanson (US) found fossil feet confirming that the A. afarensis foot was functionally like that of modern humans and support the hypothesis that this species was a committed terrestrial biped (2639).

Michel Brunet (FR), Alain Beauvilain (FR), Yves Coppers (FR), Emile Heinz (FR), Aladji H. Mouthy (FR), and David Roger Pilbeam (US) discovered part of a fossilized jaw at Koru Toro, Chad (2,400 km west of the Eastern Rift Valley), which closely resembles that of Australopithecus afarensis. They named it Australopithecus bahrelghazali and dated it to 3.3 to 3 Ma. (416, 417).

2.61 Ma

Jonathan Leakey (KE), Phillip V. Tobias (ZA), and John R. Napier (GB) found several fossilized bone fragments of a Homo habilis skull at Olduvai Gorge in Kenya. Leakey’s wife Meave carefully assembled the fragments to make a nearly complete skull, minus the lower jaw. The skull was named KNMER 1470 for its registration at the Kenya National Museum in East Rudolf. Potassium argon dating placed it at 2.61 Ma (1465, 1472).

Louis Seymour Bazett Leakey (GB-KE), Phillip V. Tobias (ZA), and John R. Napier (GB) proposed that KNMER 1470 be designated as a new species, Homo habilis (1467).

Valerii P. Alexeev (RU) described KNMER 1470 as Pithecanthropus rudolfensis, (57). The name was subsequently changed to Homo rudolfensis.

ca. 2.5 Ma

Raymond Arthur Dart (AU-ZA) found in material from a limestone quarry at Taung (place of the lion), South Africa a fossil cast of the inside of a primate skull which fitted into another lump of stone which possibly contained a face. It took Dart about a month to remove enough stone to reveal the face and jaw of a young fossil primate, which would be nicknamed the Taung baby. Dart considered the fossil “an extinct race of apes intermediate between living anthropoids and man.” He described it, named it Australopithecus africanus (Southern ape from Africa), and dated it to between 3 and 2.3 Ma (617). It was placed in early Pleistocene or late Pliocene.

Australopithecus africanus existed between 3 and 2 Ma. It is similar to A. afarensis, and was also bipedal, but body size was slightly greater. Brain size may also have been slightly larger, ranging between 420 and 500 cc. This is a little larger than chimp brains (despite a similar body size), but still not advanced in the areas necessary for speech. The back teeth were a little larger than in A. afarensis. Although the teeth and jaws of A. africanus are much larger than those of humans, they are far more similar to human teeth than to those of apes. The shape of the jaw is fully parabolic, like that of humans, and the size of the canine teeth is reduced compared to A. afarensis (529, 1330).

Berhane Asfaw (ET), Tim D. White (US), C. Owen Lovejoy (US), Bruce Latimer (US), Scott Simpson (US), and Gen Suwa (ET) discovered the hominid Australopithecus garhi near the village of Bouri, in the Afar region of Ethiopia. This 2.5 Ma species is known from a partial skull. The skull differs from previous australopithecine species in the combination of its features, notably the extremely large size of its teeth, especially the rear ones, and primitive skull morphology. Some nearby skeletal remains may belong to the same species. They show a humanlike ratio of the humerus and femur, but an apelike ratio of the lower and upper arm. This small-brained, large-toothed hominid was found near antelope bones that had been butchered by stone tools (125).

Elizabeth Culotta (US) named this hominid (592).

Camille Arambourg (FR) and Yves Coppens (FR) discovered Paraustralopithecus aethiopicus; Australopithecus aethiopicus; Paranthropus aethiopicus in 1967 at a site named Koobi Fora. Their work was largely ignored because of the scarcity of fossils found (102, 103). It has been dated to 2.5 Ma.

Alan Cyril Walker (US), Richard Erskine Frere Leakey (KE), John Michael Harris (GB), and Frank H. Brown (US) also discovered the hominid Paraustralopithecus aethiopicus; Australopithecus aethiopicus; Paranthropus aethiopicus, WT 17000, west of Lake Turkana in Kenya. This species is known from one major specimen, the Black Skull, and a few other minor specimens that may belong to the same species that existed between 2.6 and 2.3 Ma. It may be an ancestor of robustus and boisei, but it has a baffling mixture of primitive and advanced traits. The brain size is very small, at 410 cc, and parts of the skull, particularly the hind portions, are very primitive, most resembling A. afarensis. Other characteristics, like the massiveness of the face, jaws and single tooth found, and the largest sagittal crest in any known hominid, are more reminiscent of A. boisei (2628).

Sileshi Semaw (ET), Paul R. Renne (US), John W.K. Harris (US), Craig S. Feibel (US), Ray L. Bernor (US), Nardos Fesseka (ET), and Kenneth Mowbray (US) found 2.5 - 2.6 Ma. stone tools in Gona, Ethiopia (2207).

2 Ma

The Pleistocene Epoch (meaning most recent) represents that time in our Earth's history from approximately 2 Ma until about 10k year ago. During this time, glaciers advanced and receded across the northern quarter of the globe four times. At its maximum, the ice mass covered about three times its current extent, and reached heights of 13,000 feet (4,000 meters). With so much water trapped as ice, sea levels dropped to about 430 feet (130 m) below current levels. The glacial advances may have been due to continental plate movements resulting in altered water circulation, solar fluctuations, or to Milankovitch cycles (a combination of changes in the Earth's orbit and degree and direction of tilt of the Earth). 

Sites for fossils from this epoch include: Rancho la Brea Tar Seeps (California), the Solo River (Java), and the Olduvai Gorge (Africa).

The la Brea Tar Pits are not really pits at all, rather they are naturally occurring petroleum seeps near present-day Los Angeles, California. Animals would occasionally become trapped in the seep only to be discovered millennia later by roving fossil hunters. Larger animals found at la Brea include mammoths, saber tooth cats, giant ground sloths, dire wolves, and various birds.

Mastodons were large, elephant-like animals that roamed throughout various parts of North American during the Pleistocene. In Michigan, they are most commonly found in the southern half of the Lower Peninsula. A wide and extensive glacial river system may have prevented them from moving north. Mastodons were browsing animals, feeding on shoots and leaves. They thrived in the cool glacial climate. The mastodon's fate may have been directly tied to the influx of humans into the region. Recent findings show that mastodons were actively hunted and their carcasses submerged for storage and preservation.

Jacques Boucher de Crèvecoeur de Perthes (FR) found near Abbeville, France, the first evidence of Stone Age man. He determined that they were from the Pleistocene epoch. De Perthes was the first to develop the idea that prehistory could be measured on the basis of periods of geologic time (327, 328).

ca. 1.75 Ma

Mary Douglas Nicol Leakey (GB-KE) found a hominid skull belonging to the ultra robust Australopithecus boisei; Zinjanthropus boisei at Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania (1464). Australopithecus boisei existed between 2.1 and 1.1 Ma. It was similar to robustus, but the face and cheek teeth were even more massive, some molars being up to 2 cm across. The brain size is very similar to robustus, about 530 cc. A few experts consider boisei and robustus to be variants of the same species.

Robert A. Broom (ZA) reported on and named the discovery of Australopithecus robustus; Paranthropus robustus (formerly Parathrops crassidens) by a schoolboy, Gert Terblanche, in 1938 at Kromdraai in South Africa. It had a body similar to that of A. africanus, but a larger and more robust skull and teeth. It existed between 2 and 1.5 Ma. The massive face is flat or dished, with no forehead and large brow ridges. It has relatively small front teeth, but massive grinding teeth in a large lower jaw. Most specimens have sagittal crests. Its diet would have been mostly coarse, tough food that needed a lot of chewing. The average brain size is about 530 cc. Bones excavated with robustus skeletons indicate that they may have been used as digging tools (395).

1.6 Ma

The hominid Homo erectus (upright man) has a number of synonyms, including: Sinanthropus pekinensis, Pithecanthropus pekinenses, Pithecanthropus erectus, Homo ergaster, Peking man, Java man, and Turkana boy.

There is evidence that erectus was the first hominid to radiate out of Africa, probably used fire, and made stone tools more sophisticated than those of Homo habilis.

Marie Eugène François Thomas Dubois (NL) found a fossil skullcap, teeth, and femur in the Javan town of Trinil. He insisted that these fossils belonged to the same type individual, a missing link between humans and apes (781-783). Opposition to his claim remained widespread and many doubted that the bones all belonged to the same individual. He adopted the name Anthropithecus erectus then changed it to Pithecanthropus, which had been coined earlier by the German zoologist Ernst Heinrich Philipp August Haeckel; Ernst Heinrich Philipp August Häcke; Ernst Heinrich Philipp August Heckel, calling his discoveries Pithecanthropus erectus (upright ape-man) (2413). This specimen of Homo erectus is commonly called Java man.

Richard Erskine Frere Leakey (KE) reported on Bernard Ngeneo’s (KE) discovery of Homo ergaster; Homo erectus, KNMER 3733, at Koobi Fora in Kenya (1473).

Colin P. Groves (AU) and Vratislav Mazák (CZ) proposed the name Homo ergaster (man the workman) (1057).

Kamoya Kimeu (KE) discovered Turkana boy, a Homo ergaster; Homo erectus, KNMWT 15000, at Nariokotome near Lake Turkana in Kenya, in 1984 (397, 1474, 1475, 2627). It is dated at 1.6 Ma.

Davidson Black (CA) coined the name Sinanthropus pekinensis (Oriental Man from Peking), for what was popularly called Peking man (279, 280).

Franz Weidenreich (DE-US) and Lucile Swan (DE) prepared the original reconstruction of Sinanthropus pekinensis from the fossil remains of several different individuals found in the caves at Zhoukoudian, China (2652, 2653). All of the skullcaps had one thing in common. Each contained a hole through the top or back of the skull. It was apparent to the researchers that the holes existed to suck out the brains—all of the "individuals" were victims of cannibalism.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (FR), a Jesuit priest, also did early work on Peking man, a Homo erectus, also known as Pithecanthropus pekinenses and Sinanthropus pekinensis (2395, 2396).

Towikromo (ID) discovered another Homo erectus, Sangiran17, in 1969 in Java, Indonesia that was first described in 1971 by Sastrohamidjojo Sartono (ID) as Pithecanthropus erectus (2127). Modern paleontologists consider this Java man to be Homo erectus.

Guanjun Shen (CN), Xing Gao (CN), Bin Gao (CN), and Darryl E. Granger (US) report cosmogenic 26Al/10Be burial dating of quartz sediments and artifacts from the lower strata of Locality 1 in the southwestern suburb of Beijing, China, where early representatives of Zhoukoudian Homo erectus were discovered. The quartz was dated in the range of 0.77 ± 0.08 million years ago. These ages are substantially older than previously supposed and may imply early hominin’s presence at the site in northern China through a relatively mild glacial period (2247). See, Peking man above.

ca. 1Ma - 500,000 B.P. 

Francoise Jouy-Avantin (FR), Claude Combes (FR), Henry de Lumley (FR), Jean-Claude Miskovsky (FR), and Helene Mone (FR) discovered dicrocoelid (liver-fluke) eggs in animal coprolites collected in an archeological layer dated earlier than 550k B.P. from the Caune de l'Arago cave (Tautavel, Pyrenees-Orientales, France). It is the first trematode egg finding in an isolated coprolite from the Middle Pleistocene (1340).

Otto Schoetensack (DE) described and named archaic forms of Homo sapiens uncovered by gravel pit workers in 1907 near Heidelberg in Germany. Estimated age is between 400k and 700k years. This find consisted of a lower jaw with a receding chin and all its teeth. The jaw is extremely large and robust, like that of Homo erectus, but the teeth are at the small end of the erectus range. They were named Homo heidelbergensis (2176). 

Arthur Smith Woodward (GB) described a more complete skull from the Broken Hill Mine, Kabwe, Zambia and named it Homo rhodesiensis; Homo sapiens rhodesiensis (2737). It is dated at late Middle Pleistocene—ca. 300k B.P.

Emile Ennouchi (FR) reported the discovery of fossil remains of archaic Homo sapiens sapiens at Jebel Ighoud southeast of Safi, Morocco (816, 817). The fragments have been dated to ca. 500k B.P.

Marius Pièry (FR), Julien Roshem (FR), and Vilhelm Moller-Christensen (DK) gave accounts of Stone Age hominid skeletons diagnosed as exhibiting signs of tubercular damage. Evidence of pulmonary tuberculosis remains but, in the nature of the case, it is meager (1694, 1898).

ca. 780,000 B.P.

José M. Bermúdez de Castro (ES), Juan Luis Arsuaga (ES), Eudald Carbonell (ES), Antonio Rosas (ES), Ignacio Martinez (ES), and Marina Mosquera (ES) reported Homo fossils in Spain which are the oldest confirmed European hominids. It is not yet clear what species they belong to, although the discoverers have named them Homo antecessor (247).

ca. 600,000 B.P.

Camille Arambourg (FR) and Robert Hoffstetter (FR) discovered Homo erectus mandibles with teeth at Ternifine, near the village of Palikao, east of Mascara. Oran, Algeria (101, 104). They were dated to ca. 600k B.P.

ca. 450,000 B.P.

Henry de Lumley (FR) discovered the earliest human remains of Homo erectus (upright man) from Europe, dated at ca. 450k B.P., they were unearthed from the Caune de l'Arago cave (Tautavel, Pyrenees-Orientales, France) in 1971 (1967, 2716).

ca. 400,000 B.P.

Dietrich Mania (DE), in 1972, discovered the first fossil skull fragment of Homo erectus bilzingslebenensis; Homo erectus; Homo sapiens near Bilzingsleben in central Germany (1592). This fragment and those subsequently discovered have been dated to the Middle Pleistocene; ca. 400k B.P.

Jean-Jacques Jaeger (FR) and M. Abdeslem Dakka (MA), in 1971, discovered fossil remains of Homo erectus near Rabat, Morocco (1320, 1321). It was dated to 400k B.P.

Fritz Berckhemer (DE) found a fossil skull of a young female in the Sigrist gravel pit north of Stuttgart, Germany and gave it to Karl Sigrist (240, 241). This, so called, Steinheim skull can be considered a Homo erectus/Homo sapiens transitional form from the Middle Pleistocene—ca. 400k B.P.

Petros Kokkoros (GR) and Antonis Kanellis (GR) reported on the fossil remains of a Homo erectus; Homo erectus petraloniensis from near Petralona in Eastern Greece (1397). It is dated at 350-400k B.P.

ca. 300,000 B.P.

Henry de Lumley (FR), at Terra Amata, in the South of France, found red, purple, yellow, and brown ochre associated with Acheulian tools along with lumps of the ochre showing signs of wear (688, 2077). Tribal peoples alive today use ochre to treat animal skins, as an insect repellent, to staunch bleeding, and as protection from the sun. Ochre may have been one of the first medicaments used by primitive man.

Arthur Smith Woodward (GB) described a skull from the Broken Hill Mine, Kabwe, Zambia and named it Homo rhodesiensis; Homo sapiens rhodesiensis (2737). It is dated at late Middle Pleistocene—ca. 300k B.P.

ca. 260,000 B.P.

Michael R. Waters (US), Steve L. Forman (US), and James M. Pierson (US) found Lower Paleolithic human artifacts at Diring Yuriakh, an archaeological site in Central Siberia. Thermoluminescence age estimates from eolian sediments indicate that the cultural horizon is greater than 260k years old. Diring Yuriakh is an order of magnitude older than documented Paleolithic sites in Siberia and is important for understanding the timing of human expansion into the far north, early adaptations to cold climates, and the peopling of the Americas (2645).

250,000 B.P.

Rebecca L. Cann (US), Mark Stoneking (US), Allan C. Wilson (NZ), Linda Vigilant (US), Henry C. Harpending (US), Kristen Hawkes (US), Alan R. Templeton (US), S. Blair Hedges (US), Sudhir Kumar (US), and Koichiro Tamura (US) proposed that all mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) types in contemporary humans stems from a common female ancestor present in an African population extant between 164k and 247k B.P., i.e., a mitochondrial Eve. All the populations examined except the African population have multiple origins, implying that each area was colonized repeatedly. These results support and extend the African origin hypothesis of human mtDNA evolution (449, 1141, 2399, 2559).

225,000 B.P.

Alvan T. Marston (GB) found Homo sapiens fossil remains at Swanscombe, England (1615). This specimen is sometimes referred to as Swanscombe Man.

ca. 188,000 B.P.

Michael F. Hammer (US) reported that the male-specific portion of the Y chromosome is especially useful for studies of human origins. Using such analysis he estimated the time back to a common ancestral human Y chromosome to be 188k B.P. (1097).

ca. 185,000 B.P.

Miklós Kretzoi (HU) and Lazlo Vertes (HU), in 1964, found a portion of the fossil remains of a specimen of Homo erectus; Homo sapiens (archaic) near the village of Vértesszöllös west of Budapest, Hungary (1408). The remains are dated at ca. 185k B.P.

ca. 150,000 B.P.

Sarah A. Tishkoff (US), Andrew J. Pakstis (US), Mark Stoneking (US), Judith R. Kidd (US), Giovanni Destro-Bisol (US), Antic Sanjantila (FI), Ru Band Lu (US), Amos S. Deinard (US), Giorgio Sirugo (US), Trevor Jenkins (US), Kenneth K. Kidd (US), and Andrew G. Clark (US) presented human genomic evidence suggesting that about 150k years ago, Homo sapiens emerged in Eastern Africa (2427).

ca. 130,000 B.P.

Henry de Lumley (FR) and Marie-Antoinette de Lumley (FR), in 1964, discovered the fossil remains of a Homo erectus/Homo sapiens transitional form in the Verdouble valley in Southeastern France. The age of this fossil man (Aragon man) is uncertain at ca. 130k B.P. (689).

Karolyn Gorjanović-Kramberger (HR), between 1899 and 1905, discovered Homo sapiens neanderthalensis (Homo neanderthalensis) fossil remains from 13 men, women and children. The site is near the Krapinica River at Krapina, Croatia (1025-1028).

Michael H. Day (GB) discovered fossil Homo sapiens dated at ca. 130k B.P. in the lower basin of the Omro River, Southwest Ethiopia (635).

ca. 100,000 B.P.

Rene Neville (FR), in 1933, was the first to excavate fossil Homo sapiens sapiens from a cave site near Nazareth, Israel, on the southwest flank of Mount Qafzeh (1766). Subsequently more human fossil remains have been discovered at this site, all dated ca. 100k B.P.

ca. 80,000 B.P.

In 1856, bones were discovered in a cave in the Neander River Valley near Düsseldorf, Germany by quarrymen who gave them to a local schoolteacher and amateur naturalist, Johan Karl Fuhlrott. Fuhlrott identified them as human and thought them to be very old. He recognized them to be different from the usual bones of humans and showed them to the Professor of Anatomy at the University of Bonn, Hermann Schaaffhausen. Fuhlrott and Schaaffhausen presented papers on the fossils and the geology of the Feldhofer Cave at a meeting of the Niederrheinische Gesellschaft für Natur- und Heilkunde (Lower Rhine Medical and Natural History Society) in Bonn in 1857. They published indepently at a later date (945, 2139).

William King, professor of geology at Queens College in Galway, Ireland, presented a paper in 1864 where he argued the Neanderthal fossils of Fuhlrott and Schaaffhausen belonged to an extinct species of early human that he named Homo neanderthalensis (Homo sapiens neanderthalensis). He named them for the Neander River Valley (tal = river in German) (1381, 1382). This specimen probably lived around 80k B.P.

ca. 69,625 B.P.

Ellen Solomon (GB) and Walter Fred Bodmer (GB) estimated that the sickle variant gene first appeared 2785 generations (or ca. 69,625 years B.P.). This suggests that the origin of the sickle allele might well predate the origin of the major human racial groups, although its striking increase in frequency was much more recent (2277).

ca. 40,000-68,000 B.P.

James M. Bowler (AU) and Alan G. Thorne (AU) reported Lake Mungo 3 (Mungo Man), discovered in 1974, as an early human inhabitant of the continent of Australia, who is believed to have lived between 40,000 and 68,000 years ago, during the Pleistocene epoch (342). Note: Lake Mungo is in New South Wales, Australia.

ca. 60,000 B.P.

Baruch Arensburg (IL), Anne-Marie Tillier (FR), Bernard Vandermeersch (FR), Henri Duday (FR), Lynne A. Schepartz (US), and Yoel Rak (IL) reported the discovery of a well-preserved human (Neanderthal) hyoid bone from Middle Paleolithic layers of Kebara Cave, Mount Carmel, Israel, dating from about 60k B.P. The bone is almost identical in size and shape to the hyoid of present-day humans, suggesting that there has been little or no change in the visceral skeleton (including the hyoid, middle ear ossicles, and inferentially the larynx) during the past 60k years of human evolution. They concluded that the morphological basis for human speech capability appears to have been fully developed during the Middle Paleolithic (117). 

Alan Thorne (AU), Rainer Grun (AU), Graham Mortimer (AU), Nigel A. Spooner (AU), John J. Simpson (AU), Malcolm McCulloch (AU), Lois Taylor (AU), and Darren Curnoe (AU) presented evidence that people who were skeletally within the range of the present Australian indigenous population colonized the continent during or before 57k-71k B.P. (2422).

Amadee Bouyssonie (FR), Jean Bouyssonie (FR) and Louis Bardon (FR) found skeletal remains of Homo sapiens neanderthalensis; Homo neanderthalensis near the village of La Chapelle-aux-Saints in France (336). The remains are dated at ca. 60k B.P.

Dorothy Anne Elizabeth Garrod (GB), Dorothea Minola Alice Bate (GB), Theodore Doney McCowan  (GB), and Arthur Keith (GB) reported the discovery at Mugharet et-Tabun, Mount Carmel, southeast of Haifa, Israel of a fossilized female skeleton likely to be Homo sapiens neanderthalensis; Homo neanderthalensis. They also discovered Homo remains from roughly the same time period in a nearby cave named Mugharet es-Skhül (972, 1639). These specimens are dated at 30k-60k B.P. 

ca. 47,000 B.P.

Ralph Stefan Solecki (US) and coworkers, from 1951-1960, examined the Shanidar cave in North Central Iraq for fossil remains. Nine partial Homo sapiens neanderthalensis; Homo neanderthalensis skeletons were removed (2275, 2276). The specimens have been dated between 25k-54k B.P. 

Thomas Dale Stewart (US), at Shanidar cave in Iraq, discovered that Shanidar I, a Neanderthal male, 30-45 years of age, had an underdeveloped right shoulder blade, collar bone, and upper right arm bone. He believes that Shanidar I was crippled, with a useless right arm, which had been amputated in life just above the elbow (2335). This is surely one of the earliest known examples of surgery.

ca. 44,000 B.P.

Arthur Keith (GB) discovered a human upper jaw in Southern England and initially diagnosed it as Upper Paleolithic modern human (1356).

Tom Higham (GB), Tim Compton (GB), Chris Stringer (GB), Roger Jacobi (GB), Beth Shapiro (US), Erik Trinkaus (US), Barry Chandler (GB), Flora Gröning (GB), Chris Collins (GB), Simon Hillison (UK), Paul O'Higgins (GB), Charles FitzGerald (UK), and Michael Fagan (UK) tested the jaw Keith found using a Bayesian analysis of new ultra filtered bone collagen dates in an ordered stratigraphic sequence at the site dated to 44.2–41.5 k BP. This placed it as older than any other equivalently dated modern human specimen and directly contemporary with the latest European Neanderthals (1191).

Arturo Palma di Cesnola (IT) and E. Borzatti von Löwenstein (IT), in 1964, found two deciduous molars in the so-called Uluzzian archaeological layers unearthed from the Grotta del Cavallo (Southern Italy). They were classified as Neanderthal and dated to 45,000 years ago, making them the oldest known human remains on the continent (1829).  In 2011, the two deciduous teeth from Cavallo Cave, the only human remains associated with the Uluzzian so far, were identified as belonging to anatomically modern humans and not Neanderthals.

Stefano Benazzi (AT), Katerina Douka (GB), Cinzia Fornai (AT), Catherine C. Bauer (DE), Ottmar Kullmer (DE), Jiří Svoboda (CZ), Ildikó Pap (HU), Francesco Mallegni (IT), Priscilla Bayle (FR), Michael Coquerelle (ES), Silvana Condemi (FR), Annamaria Ronchitelli (IT), Katerina Harvati (DE), and Gerhard W. Weber (AT) reanalyzed the deciduous molars from the Grotta del Cavallo (Southern Italy), associated with the Uluzzian and originally classified as Neanderthal. Their new chronometric data for the Uluzzian layers of Grotta del Cavallo obtained from associated shell beads and included within a Bayesian age model show that the teeth must date to ~45,000–43,000 calendar years before present. The Cavallo human remains are therefore the oldest known European anatomically modern humans, confirming a rapid dispersal of modern humans across the continent before the Aurignacian and the disappearance of Neanderthals (231).

ca. 38,000 B.P.

Louis Capitan (FR) and Denis Peyrony (FR) found a fossil remains of Homo sapiens neanderthalensis; Homo neanderthalensis dated at to about 38k B.P. The site was near La Ferrassie, France (452).

ca. 34,000-31,000 B.P.

Francois Lèvèque (FR) and Bernard Vandermeersch (FR), in 1979, found fossil remains of a Homo sapiens neanderthalensis; Homo neanderthalensis near Saint-Césaire in Southwestern France (1495). This may well be the most recent Neandertal known.

The Tokyo University Scientific Expedition to Western Asia (Director: Hisashi Suzuki) discovered fossil remains of Homo sapiens neanderthalensis; Homo neanderthalensis in a cave in Wadi Amud, north of Tiberias, Israel (2476). The remains are dated from about 25k-40k B.P.

ca. 32,000 B.P.

James M. Bowler (AU), Rhys Jones (AU), Harry Allen (AU), Alan G. Thorne (AU), and Mike Barbetti (AU) reported Lake Mungo 1 (Mungo Lady) which was discovered in 1969 and is one of the world's oldest known cremations (167, 340, 341). Note: Lake Mungo is in New South Wales, Australia.

ca. 29,400 B.C.E.

Reidar Nydal (NO) radiocarbon dated a total of six wooly mammoths yielding an average age of 31,400 B.P. (1780). 

ca. 29,000 B.C.E.

Jean-Marie Chauvet (FR), Éliette Brunel-Deschamps (FR), and Christian Hillaire (FR) discovered the Chauvet-Pont-D’Arc cave in Ardéche France, in 1994. It was occupied by Paleolithic man of the Aurignacian culture and contains magnificent drawings of mammoths, rhinoceroses, lions, and cave bears dated to between 28,340 and 30,410 B.C.E. These drawings are unmatched in their sophistication.

Coliboaia Cave located in the Sighistel Valley, near the village of Campani, Bihor County, Romania was found in the Autumn of 2009 to contain cave paintings from ca. 29,000 B.C.E., corresponding to the Aurignacian and Gravettian cultures of the Paleolithic period. Tudor Rus (RU), Spedova Stei (RU), Mihai Besesek (RU), Valentin Alexandru Radu (RU), Roxana Laura Toiciu (RU), and Marius Kenesz (RU) discovered the paintings. A French team of archaeologists composed of Marcel Meyssonnier, Valerie Plichon, Michel Philippe, Francoise Prudhomme, Jean Clottes, and Bernard Gély attested to the authenticity of the paintings (161, 519, 2769).

The Serra da Capivara National Park in northeast Brazil near the town of Sao Raimundo Nonato contains exceptional testimony to one of the oldest populations to inhabit South America. It constitutes and preserves the largest ensemble of archaeological sites, and the oldest examples of rock art in the Americas. Moreover, the iconography of the paintings allows us to identify information about the region’s early peoples. The dating of the rock art suggests continuous occupation from 6,160±130 to 32,160±100 years B.P (1064).

Ubirr at Kakadu in the Northern Territory, Australia contains rock shelters where the rock faces have been continuously painted and repainted by humans since 40,000 B.C.E (498).

Wolfgang Ernst Wendt (DE) discovered seven limestone slabs of rock with traces of animal figures in the Apollo 11 Cave in the Huns Mountains of southwestern Namibia. They have been dated with unusual precision for ancient rock art. Their age is between 28,000 and 32,000 B.P. (2670). 

27,000-20,000 B.C.E.

Louis Lartet (FR), in 1868, was the first to find fossil remains of Homo sapiens sapiens (Cro-Magnon man). These were located in a rock shelter site near the village of Les Eyzies in Southwestern France (380). The name Cro-Magnon comes from Abri Cro-Magnon, Les Eyzies, France where the remains were found. Though spelled magnon the correct pronunciation is "man yon". Louis Lartet was a geologist and son of solicitor and prehistorian Edouard Lartet (FR).

Discarded bones at their ancient campsites testify that Cro-Magnon often fed on vertebrates such as horses and reindeer (1705).

John Desmond Clark (US) attributed the great success of Homo sapiens sapiens over other hominids to the development of speech. “The achievement of awareness and integration, as with the transmission of knowledge, is in the main through speech” (512).

Antonio Torroni (IT), Rem I. Sukernik (RU), Yelena B. Starikovskaya (RU), Margaret F. Cabell (US), Michael H. Crawford (US), Anthony G. Comuzzie (US), James van Gundia Neel (US), Ramiro Barrantes (CR), Theodore G. Schurr (US), and Douglas C. Wallace (US) compared several DNA markers found in modern Native Americans and modern Siberians and estimated that if the Amerinds entered the New World as a single group, that entry would have occurred approximately 20k-27k B.P. (2431, 2432).

Johanna Nichols (US) suggests that the diversity of languages found among Native Americans could have arisen only after humans had been in the New World for at least 20k-30k B.P. (1772).

Joseph M. McAvoy (US) and Lynn D. McAvoy (US) noted that the location, dating and technology represented by the Cactus Hill, Meadowcroft and Page-Ladson sites in the eastern United States provide the ‘missing’ chronological and technological links between Solutrean and Clovis cultures (1637). Cactus Hill was occupied 14,000 to 18,000 B.P.

Bruce A. Bradley (GB) and Dennis J. Stanford (US) placed the technological antecedents of North America's Clovis culture in Europe and posit that the first Americans crossed the Atlantic by boat and arrived earlier than previously thought. Presenting archaeological and oceanographic evidence to support this assertion, they dismantle the old paradigm while persuasively linking Clovis technology with the culture of Silurian people who occupied France and Spain more than 20,000 years ago. "Silurian" is named after the type-site of Croat du Charier at Solute in the Macon district, Saone-et-Loire, eastern France, and appeared around 21,000 BP (359, 2310). 

15,000 B.P.

Jean Louis Rudolph Agassiz (CH-US) was the first to come to the conclusion—from his studies of glaciers—that there had been an Ice Age. He borrowed the phrase ice age (Disseat) from a poem by his friend Karl Schemer (35-37, 1601). The last great ice age occurred 10k —15k B.P.

James Hutton (GB), in 1795, had speculated that some strange erratic boulders near Geneva had been carried and left there by glaciers that had since retreated (1295).

Luther Sided (PL-AR) found eggs of the fish tapeworm, Diphyllobothrium latum, in the intestines of two human bodies preserved in a peat bog in East Prussia since the early glacial period (2379).

Marcel Ravidat (FR), Jacques Marsal (FR), Georges Agnel (FR), and Simon Coencas (FR), in 1940, discovered the cave at Lascaux, France where man produced representational art on the walls. It contains a great collection of Paleolithic art 10k- 15k B.P. (10).

Marcelino de Santuola (ES), in 1869, discovered the Altamira Caves near Santillana del Mar, Spain. These caves contain important Paleolithic art 14k to 16k B.P. (129).

ca. 13,000 B.P.

Knut R. Fladmark (CA) has been one of the most vocal supporters of the proposal that humans from Siberia may have traveled along the Pacific coastlines as they populated North and South America (873).

ca. 10,500 B.P.

Tom D. Dillehay (US), from 1977 to 1985, excavated at Monte Verde, some 31 miles (50 km) inland from the Pacific Ocean in southern Chile. He found evidence of a known site of human habitation in the Americas at ~10,500 B.C.E. (745, 746).

ca. 10,000 B.C.E.

The Holocene or Recent Epoch includes the time since the end of the last Ice Age, approximately 10,000 year ago. It was during this time that Homo sapiens completed worldwide radiation and became technologically advanced. The beginning of the Holocene saw a warming trend and the receding of the Wisconsinan Ice at the end of the Pleistocene. Many of the larger animals associated with the ice ages, such as mammoths and mastodons, did not survive into Recent times. It is probable that a combination of climatic change and human predation resulted in the extinction of these species.

Man first started eating a crude form of flat bread - a baked combination of flour and water.

Historians speculate that smallpox (red plague) probably emerged sometime after the first agricultural settlements (1646).

ca. 9,500 B.C.E.

Jesse D. Figgins (US) found large, heavy fluted stone points near Clovis, New Mexico. Mammoth bones in a deposit beneath a layer containing Folsom points and bison skeletons accompanied them. The robust points, now named Clovis, were recognized as even older than the Folsom points. Characteristic of both points is a flute, a flake struck off the base along the length of the point, presumably to facilitate hafting (862).

C. Vance Haynes, Jr. (US) used radiocarbon dating to place the Clovis points at about 9,500-9,000 B.C.E., and none before 10,000 B.C.E. (1135).

ca. 8,000 B.C.E.

In the Middle East early Neolithic man began the domestication of plants (497).

Chester Gorman (US) found evidence to support Carl Ortwin Sauer’s (US) hypothesis of plant domestication by the Hoabinhian people. They lived at Spirit Cave in Northern Thailand and grew domesticated beans, peas, gourds and water chestnuts around 6000-9000 B.C.E. (1029-1031, 2128).

Solomon H. Katz (US) and Mary M. Voigt (US) report that the earliest evidence for domesticated grains comes from Tell Aswad, Jericho, and Nasal Oren. Excavations at these sites have surrendered a few grains of barley, wheat, and lentils morphologically different than wild-type strains (1353).

Just Marie Marcelin Lucas-Championniere (FR) described Neolithic human skulls from nearly all parts of the world with disks of bone removed. This process, called trephining, represents the first evidence of man’s intervention in an attempt to heal his fellow man. This surgical procedure was likely done to release confined demons associated with epilepsy, infantile convulsions, headache, and various cerebral diseases (1544). 

ca. 7000 B.C.E.

Ilyia Iosifovich Gokhman (RU) examined a skeleton (No. 6285-9) from the Vasilyevka II cemeteries with evidence that trephination— surgical removal of bone from the cranial vault— had been performed during the Mesolithic period. The cemetery, excavated in 1953 by A.D. Stolyar (), has been dated to between 7,300-6,220 B.C.E., making this trephined cranium the oldest known example of a healed trephination yet discovered. The skull has a depression on its left side with a raised border of bone and 'stepping' in the center showing stages of healing during life. The complete closure indicates the survival rate of the patient, a man who was more than 50 years old at his death (1016, 1504).

Kurt W. Alt (DE) and his colleagues discovered a 5,000 B.C.E. burial at Ensisheim, in the French region of Alsace, which yielded unequivocal evidence for trephination (2626).

ca. 6000 B.C.E.

The production of cheese is thought to have originated in Southwestern Asia (1403).

“The opium poppy, the source of both morphine and heroin, seems to have been domesticated by Old European farmers in the Western Mediterranean area” (2077).

The Sumerians, of lower Mesopotamia, are the first culture known to have used opium. Their name for "poppy" translates to "flower of joy"—a name that almost certainly indicates that opium was used recreationally.

ca. 5000 B.C.E.

Patrick E. McGovern (US), Donald L. Glusker (US), Robert A. Moreau (US), Alberto Nuñez (US), Curt W. Beck (US), Elizabeth Simpson (US), Eric D. Butrym (US), Lawrence J. Exner (US), and Edith C. Stout (US) found the oldest evidence for the existence of wine. It comes from Neolithic villagers in the Zagros Mountains, in what is now Northwestern Iran. Evidence of wine has been found in jars that were once placed along the kitchen walls of a mud-brick structure. The wine may have resembled Greek retsina. Recent chemical and related tests of a yellowish residue found in the jars point to wine. First, salts of tartaric acid, found naturally in large amounts only in grapes, were identified. Secondly, resin from the terebinth tree, used in antiquity to preserve wine, was also discovered. Additionally, the jars had narrow necks and stoppers were found nearby (1644).

Patrick E. McGovern (US), Donald L. Glusker (US), Lawrence J. Exner (US), and Mary M. Voigt (US) found wine jars at Hajji Firuz Tepe in the Northern Zagros Mountains of Iran. The material was dated to ca. 5400-5000 B.C.E. (1643).

David G. Mandelbaum (US) found documentary evidence of alcoholic beverages written in Sumerian around 3200 B.C.E. It most certainly concerns beer rather than wine production and employs a specific pictograph for beer itself (1589). Beer was very likely produced much earlier than this in the Eastern Mediterranean and Mesopotamia.

Carvings in the tombs of the Old Kingdom at Sakkara, Egypt (ancient Memphis) depict methods for producing wine by fermentation, ca. 2200 B.C.E.

Grafton Elliott Smith (AU-GB), in 1901, discovered the oldest urological object on record, a bladder calculus, in a prehistoric Egyptian tomb, in the pelvis of a mummy. The calculus has a uric acid nucleus with concentric laminations of calcium oxalate and ammonium magnesium phosphate (2245).

ca. 4800 B.C.E.

The oldest bladder stone known was found in the grave of a boy about 16 years old in the prehistoric cemetery at El Amrah in Upper Egypt and was dated at about 4800 B.C.E. About 6.5 cm in diameter, it was made up of calcium phosphate and uric acid (2065).

ca. 4300 B.C.E.

Babylonian clay tablets detail recipes for making beer in a hymn to the Sumerian goddess of beer, Ninkasi.

ca. 4000 B.C.E.

The Egyptian kingdoms were controlling the production of wine and other fermented drinks (1335).

Solomon H. Katz (US) and Mary M. Voigt (US) reported that the earliest direct evidence of beer consumption comes from a stamp seal from Tepe Gawra, showing two figures drinking beer using traditional straws and container (1353). 

ca. 3700 B.C.E.

A skeleton from ancient Egypt unearthed near Cairo showed a marked shortening of the left leg consistent with poliomyelitis (2768).

ca. 3000 B.C.E.

Rosamund M. J. Cleal (GB), Karen E. Walker (GB), and Richard Montague (GB) radiocarbon dated the first phase of Stonehenge, the outer ditch, which lies far outside the iconic stone structure. The ditch forms a nearly complete circle with an earthen bank on the inner side. (Now the bank is almost level with the ground due to age.) Radiocarbon dating of material found in the ditch in 1993-94 suggests it was built more than five thousand years ago, somewhat before 3000 B.C.E. (516).

Esmond Ray Long (US) reported that from investigations on the mummies of ancient Egypt we know that bone tumors and tuberculosis of the spine occurred, that osteomyelitis and arthritis deformans were common, that, arteriosclerosis of the senile (atheromatous type with deposit of calcium salts) was at least as frequent as it is with us, and possibly more so, and that pneumonias, anthracosis, pleurisies, renal atrophies and abscesses, splenomegalies and gallstones troubled or cut off the Pharaohs and priests of Ammon, with the same kind of gross and microscopic change to be seen in the fresher human clay of the twentieth century (1525).

Marc Armand Ruffer (FR-GB) was the first to identify inflammatory diseases of the joints among Egyptian mummies, thereby describing the presence of arthritis and spondylitis in an atypically young Egyptian population. His examination of the internal organs found that arteriosclerosis with calcification was also common (2082-2084).

Among disasters mentioned in the Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh as preferable to the Flood was visitation from the god of pestilence, and an Egyptian text of about the same age compares fear of Pharaoh with fear of the god of disease in a year of pestilence (1957).

Samuel Noah Kramer (US) reported that Sumerian cuneiform tablets list various drugs to be used in the treatment of common ailments (1405).

The Egyptians were using frayed, fibrous chew sticks as a form of toothbrush. Toothpaste was first used ca. 2000 B.C.E. (1830).

Imhotep (EG) is the earliest physician (magician-physician) to be recorded by name (440).

ca. 2700 B.C.E.

Shen Nung; Pinyin Shen Nong; Yen Ti (CN) was the second of China's mythical emperors. He is credited with inventing the cart and plow, taming the ox and yoking the horse, teaching his people to clear the land with fire, and establishing a stable agricultural society in China. His catalog of 365 species of medicinal plants became the basis of later herbological studies. It is also claimed that he originated acupuncture (1509).

2641 B.C.E.

Ménes of Memphis (Aha), founding Pharaoh of the 1st Dynasty of Egypt, died following a hornet sting or being trampled by a hippopotamus. This may be the first recorded allergic reaction (anaphylactic shock) (1590). The confusion arises because the ancient Egyptian word for hornet and hippopotamus are the same.

ca. 2600 B.C.E.

The Egyptians, in approximately 2600 B.C.E., were lucky enough to have a sufficient amount of wild yeasts in the air from the beer brewing to accidentally discover its uses in leavening bread. Workers were often paid in loaves of bread. Paintings in the pyramids show that the dead were buried with loaves of bread, to provide sustenance in the afterlife. (The British Museum has one of these loaves--4000 years old!)

ca. 2400 B.C.E.

The ancient Egyptians named some 202 different kinds of plants in hieroglyphics (1530).

Leprosy is mentioned in the Brugsch Papyrus of Egypt (414).

ca. 2300 B.C.E.

A Chinese rice beer, kiu, is mentioned. It was made from barley, wheat and spelt, as well as rice (1867).

ca. 2277 B.C.E.

Raúl Patrucco (PE), Raúl Tello (PE), and Duccio Bonavia (PE) found Ascaris lumbricoides eggs in human coprolites from Peru (1247, 1857).

ca. 2200 B.C.E.

The first illustration of a surgical procedure is a bas-relief found in a tomb in Sakkara, Egypt. It depicts a circumcision scene (1101).

ca. 2250 B.C.E.

From Nippur, Babylonia a clay tablet reveals a remedy for pain of dental cavities. The tooth cement used was made by mixing henbane seed with gum.

ca. 2000 B.C.E.

Felipe Guhl (CO), Carlos Jaramillo (CO), Roxana Yockteng (CO), Gutavo Adolfo Vallejo (US), and Felipe Cardenas-Arroyo (CO) detected Trypanosoma cruzi DNA in the heart and esophagus of mummified bodies from Peru and Northern Chile dating from 2000 B.C.E. to 1400 A.D. (1062). Trypanosoma cruzi is the etiological agent of Chagas (American trypanosomiasis).

Descriptions of Old World cutaneous leishmaniasis, known as oriental sore, are found on tablets in the library of King Ashurbanipal from the 7th century B.C.E., some of which are thought to have been derived from earlier texts from 1500 to 2500 B.C.E. (1596).

The Rgveda describes a healed tracheostomy incision (1713).

Anonymous (Babylonian) “If the tips of [the patient's] fingers are falling off and are black, he will die” (2711). Doubtless this describes serious gangrene.

Felix Eijgenraam (NL) and Alun Anderson (NL) described a 4,000-year-old Bronze Age man found frozen since his death in the Italian Alps. It is hoped that this body—found by Helmut and Erika Simon— will shed light on the racial structure and culture of early Europe (805).

Leopold Dorfer (AT), Maximilian Moser (AT), Frank Bahr (DE), Konrad Spindler (AT), Eduard Egarter-Vigl (IT), Sonia Guillen (PE), Gottfried Dohr (AT), and Thomas Kenner (AT) reported that the Bronze Age “Ice Man,” (see above) found in the Italian Alps near the Austrian border, possesses many "tattoos" corresponding very near or on acupuncture points and meridians, including the 'master point for back pain'. If these are acupuncture sites then this is the oldest known example of such treatment (762).

ca. 1900 B.C.E. 

From the Mesopotamian Laws of Eshnunna comes this statement: “If a dog is mad and the authorities have brought the fact to the knowledge of its owner; if he does not keep it in and it bites a man and causes his death, then the owner shall pay two-thirds of a mina (40 shekels) of silver. If it bites a slave and causes his death, he shall pay 15 shekels of silver” (2745).

Wild or domesticated carnivores belonging to the family Felidae (cats) were kept in a captive or semi-domesticated state by the Egyptians (2756).

1850 B.C.E.

The Petrie Papyri; Hieratic Papyri from Kahun and Gurob, contain the oldest written reference to birth control measures that has been found to date. It refers to a pessary (vaginal suppository) of crocodile dung and fermented dough (1053).

1800 B.C.E.

Although the Code of Hammurabi mentions the practice of hand pollinating date palms, the sexuality of plants was not understood until 1694. This Code also includes a set of rules for the regulation of both surgical practices and the surgeon’s fees (1098).

ca.1700 B.C.E.

Edwin Smith (US), in 1862, obtained from an Egyptian artifacts dealer what became known as the Edwin Smith Surgical Papyrus. It reveals that the ancient Egyptians are responsible for the oldest written record using the word brain and have provided the first written accounts of the anatomy of the brain, the meninges (coverings of the brain) and cerebrospinal fluid. This document was written around the year 1700 B.C.E., but is based on texts that go back to about 3000 B.C.E. and is considered to be the first medical document in the history of mankind. The 48 cases mentioned in the Edwin Smith Surgical Papyrus concern:

     27 head injuries (cases #1-27) 

     6 throat and neck injuries (cases #28-33) 

     2 injuries to the clavicle (collarbone) (cases #34-35) 

     3 injuries to the arm (cases #36-38) 

     8 injuries to the sternum (breastbone) and ribs (cases #39-46) 

     1 injury to the shoulder (case #47) 

     1 injury to the spine (case #48)

This papyrus contains the first known reference to wound closure by suturing, a statement translated as, “Thou shouldst draw together for him his gash with stitching." Advice for infected wounds includes a recommendation to apply a decoction of willow (which contains salicin) and astringents of copper and sodium salts. There is also a mention of breast cancer.

Case #31 refers to the spinal cord injury as follows: “If thou examinest a man having a dislocation in a vertebra of his neck, shouldst thou find him unconscious of his two arms (and) his two legs on account of it, while his phallus is erected on account of it, (and) urine drops from his member without his knowing it; his flesh has received wind; his two eyes are bloodshot; it is a dislocation of a vertebra of his neck extending to his backbone which causes him to be unconscious of his two arms (and) his two legs.”

A mixture of grease and honey is recommended to prevent infection from occurring in an open wound (366). 

1550 B.C.E.

George Moritz Ebers (DE) discovered an Egyptian papyrus now referred to as the Papyrus Ebers. The papyrus was discovered about 1862 and subsequently purchased by Ebers in Luxor, Thebes, in 1873. In this medical treatise is recorded the use of castor oil as a cathartic, sea onion (Urginea scilla maritima) to treat dropsy, a remedy to prevent the excessive crying of children which was probably similar to paregoric, extract from acacia as a contraceptive, and red squill a rat poison. These are all plant products. A disease most likely to be diabetes was described. Tetanus is described. Parasitic worms such as Dracunculus (Guinea worm) and what was likely schistosomiasis are also mentioned. Regarding abscesses it states, “If you examine a swelling of pus in any limb of a man and you find it [with] its head raised and it is enclosed and it is rounded, you shall say concerning it: ‘a swelling of pus, an illness which will be treated by me with the knife treatment.’ There is something in it like mucus. Something comes forth like wax. It makes a pocket. If anything [remains] in its pocket, it recurs.” A relationship between heartbeat and the peripheral pulse is noted. It is recommended that night-blindness be treated with raw liver, a rich source of vitamin A (retinol)—case 57 in the Papyrus Ebers.

"If you examine a man because of suffering in his stomach, and he suffers in his arm, his breast and the side of his stomach, one says concerning him: It is the wadj-disease. Then you shall say concerning it: Something has entered his mouth. Death is approaching." Doubtless this is a description of coronary artery disease (422, 796).

Studies of Egyptian mummies have revealed that atherosclerosis and arterial calcification were relatively common 3500 years ago (2259). The writer of the Ebers papyrus clearly identified arterial aneurysms, probably peripheral aneurysms, and recommended the following treatment: “Treat it with a knife and burn it with a fire so that it bleeds not too much” (173).

Hindu physicians in the Ayur-Veda developed the first clinical test for diabetes. They observed that flies and ants were attracted to the sweet tasting urine of people afflicted with certain diseases (2718).

The earliest credible clinical evidence of smallpox is found in the smallpox-like disease in medical writings from ancient India (2246).

ca. 1350 B.C.E.

One of the earliest written records of a urine-based pregnancy test can be found in an ancient Egyptian document, the Berlin Papyrus. “Means for knowing if a woman will give birth or will not give birth: (Put) some barley and some wheat (into two bags of cloth) which the woman will moisten with her urine every day, equally barley and grain in the two bags. If both the barley and the wheat sprout she will give birth. If (only) the barley germinates it will be a boy, if it is the wheat, which alone germinates it, will be a girl. If neither germinates she will not give birth.” Testing of this theory in 1963 found that 70 percent of the time, the urine of pregnant women did promote growth, while the urine of non-pregnant women and men did not. Scholars have identified this as perhaps the first test to detect a unique substance in the urine of pregnant women, and have speculated that elevated levels of estrogens in pregnant women’s urine may have been the key to its success (988, 1477, 2694).

1358-1340 B.C.E.

Akhenaten (EG), pharoah of Egypt for 18 years, was quite possibly the first Klinefelter's syndrome case in recorded history. He also became the first known monotheistic ruler in history when he established Aten (the sun god) as the one-and-only god of Egypt (1561).

Medical analysis of Akhenaten's body, including DNA tests, concluded that his appearance was not due to genetic disorders.

ca. 1304 B.C.E.

Zahi Hawass (EG), Yehia Z. Gad (EG), Somaia Ismail (EG), Rabab Khairat (DE), Dina Fathalla (EG), Naglaa Hasan (EG), Amal Ahmed (EG), Hisham Elleithy (EG), Markus Ball (DE), Fawzi Gaballah (EG), Sally Wasef (EG), Mohamed Fateen (EG), Hany Amer (EG), Paul Gostner (IT), Ashraf Selim (EG), Albert Zink (DE), and Carsten M. Pusch (DE) used genetic fingerprinting to construct a 5-generation pedigree of Pharoah Tutankhamun's immediate lineage. The KV55 mummy and KV35YL were identified as the parents of Tutankhamun. No signs of gynecomastia and craniosynostoses (.e.g., Antley-Bixler syndrome) or Marfan syndrome were found, but an accumulation of malformations in Tutankhamun's family was evident. Several pathologies including Köhler disease II were diagnosed in Tutankhamun; none alone would have caused death. Genetic testing for STEVOR, AMA1, or MSP1 genes specific for Plasmodium falciparum revealed indications of malaria tropica in 4 mummies, including Tutankhamun's. These results suggest avascular bone necrosis in conjunction with the malarial infection as the most likely cause of death in Tutankhamun. Walking impairment and malarial disease sustained by Tutankhamun is supported by the discovery of canes and an afterlife pharmacy in his tomb (1132). 

ca. 1300 B.C.E.

An ancient ruler of Anyang (CN) asked, “Will this year have pestilence and will it be deaths?” (1646).

ca. 1270 B.C.E.

Moses (Hebrew) brought down upon Egypt “sores that break into pustules on man and beast” (1722). Could this have been smallpox (red plague)?

Moses (Hebrew) states, “…and all the water of the river was changed to blood. The fish in the river died, and the river itself became so polluted that the Egyptians could not drink its water…” (1721). Could this be the first recorded case of red tide?

Moses (Hebrew) states that, “Furthermore, a lethal visitation upon Egypt’s firstborn in a single night left “not a house where there was not someone dead” (1723).

God made Miriam, the sister of Moses and Aaron, leprous. The Lord ordered that she be shut up outside the camp for seven days (quarantined) (1725).

Moses (Hebrew) writes in Numbers 21:8, “And the Lord said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live” (1726).

The “fiery serpent” was very likely the “Guinea worm” (Dracunculus medinensis) (1412).

1250-1000 B.C.E.

Marc Armand Ruffer (FR-GB) discovered and identified Shistosoma hematobium bilharzia-calcified eggs in the kidneys of Egyptian mummies dating from 1250 to 1000 BC, revealing for the first time the existence of schistosomiasis in ancient Egypt (2081, 2084). This finding is generally regarded as the beginning of paleoparasitology.

1200 B.C.E.

Ancient Chinese literature from 1200 B.C.E. mentions parasitic potter wasps that are misinterpreted as the stepfathers of caterpillars (1350).

1157 B.C.E.

Marc Armand Ruffer (FR-GB) analyzed the mummified remains of Rhamses (Ramses) V, Egyptian pharoah from 1153-1157 B.C.E., and found that he suffered from smallpox (red plague) (7, 1240, 1614, 2082, 2084).

According to Homer’s Odyssey the daughter of Zeus cast a drug (opium) into wine "to assuage suffering and to dispel anger, and to cause forgetfulness of all ills."

ca. 1000 B.C.E.

Samuel (Hebrew) records that an epidemic was visited upon the Philistines as punishment for the seizure of the Ark of the Covenant (2115).

Grafton Elliot Smith (GB), Marc Armand Ruffer (FR-GB), and Karl Sudhoff (DE) described Pott's disease (a kind of tuberculous arthritis of the intervertebral joints) in another Egyptian mummy, opening the debate about the occurrence of tuberculosis in ancient times (2262).

There were numerous techniques of variolation to treat smallpox (red plague). The Chinese avoided direct contact with the sick; instead the child was induced to inhale a powder made from the crusts shed by a recovering patient. In the Near East and in Africa fresh material from a diseased patient’s pustules was rubbed into a cut or scratch in the skin of the person being immunized (1019, 1555, 1758).

ca. 930 B.C.E.

Samuel (Hebrew) describes how 70,000 people in Judah and Israel were killed by a pestilence as punishment for David’s sin of numbering the people. (David, although he begged the Lord to do so, was not punished for this transgression, i.e., sovereign immunity) (2116).

ca. 800 B.C.E.

Susruta (Hindu) wrote the Sushruta Samhita, in which he mentions dissection of the human body, leprosy, scurvy, diabetes (he noted the difference between thin people who develop the disease at a young age and heavier people who develop diabetes at an older age. He also noted that the older heavier group seemed to live longer. This method of classifying diabetics remains with us today), heart pain which may be angina pectoris, phthisis (pulmonary tuberculosis), many diseases of the eye, couching or reclination of cataracts (the cataractous lens was displaced away from the pupil to lie in the vitreous cavity in the back of the eye), removal of iron from the eye with a magnet, and a Caesarean section procedure. Many medicinal plants are mentioned and some specific drugs and chemicals such as Hyoscyamus niger (henbane), opium, cinnamon, ginger, chenopodium, croton oil, castor oil, pomegranate, Cannabis indica (cannabis), solanum, acacia, aconite, cassia, powders of Caesaepinia sappon (sappon wood), licorice root, Berberis asiatica (barberry), Terra japonica, antimony, copper sulfate, borax, mercury, silver, and sodium carbonate.

There are numerous contributions made by Sushruta to the field of surgery. Surgical demonstration of techniques of making incisions, probing, extraction of foreign bodies, alkali and thermal cauterization, tooth extraction, excisions, trocars for draining abscess draining hydrocele and ascitic fluid. Described removal of the prostate gland, urethral stricture dilatation, vesiculolithotomy, hernia surgery, caesarian section, management of hemorrhoids, fistulae, laparotomy and management of intestinal obstruction, perforated intestines, accidental perforation of the abdomen with protrusion of omentum. It classified details of the six types of dislocations, twelve varieties of fractures and classification of the bones and their reaction to the injuries. It described principles of fracture management, viz., traction, manipulation, appositions and stabilization including some measures of rehabilitation and fitting of prosthetics. It classified eye diseases (76) with signs, symptoms, prognosis, medical/surgical interventions and cataract surgery. Description of method of stitching the intestines by using ant-heads as stitching material. It was the first to deal with embryology and sequential development of the structures of the fetus. It discussed dissection and the study of human anatomy. It introduced wine to dull the pain of surgical incisions. It enumerates 1120 illnesses and recommends diagnosis by inspection, palpation and auscultation (261, 2242). It is difficult to determine the age of particular aspects of this medical knowledge; some of it is doubtless much older.

Homer (GR) seems to have realized the true origin of flies that arose in putrefying carcasses. In the Iliad he says: 

“Yet fear I for Menoetius’ noble Son

Lest in his spear-inflicted wounds the flies

May gender worms and desecrate the dead

And, life extinct, corruption reach his flesh.”

Also, in the Iliad, Achilles calls Hector a “rabid dog”.

Homer (GR) mentions the use of sulfur as a pesticide (fungicide) against plant disease (1234).

The mule is mentioned in Homer’s Iliad, “ . . . and before them went the mules; And ever upward, downward, sideward and aslant they fared” (1234).

ca. 775 B.C.E.

Isaiah (Hebrew) recalls the fatal visitation that “slew in the camp of the Assyrians 185,000” overnight, and caused the Assyrian king, Sennacherib, to withdraw from Judah without capturing Jerusalem (1313).

ca. 766 B.C.E.

Amos of Tekoa (Hebrew) says, “I struck you with blight and searing wind; your many gardens and vineyards, your fig trees and olive trees the locust devoured; Yet you returned not to me, says the Lord” (2397).

ca. 740 B.C.E.

Azari´ah (Hebrew), King of Judah, was made leprous by the Lord as a punishment. He remained leprous until his death, forced to live out his days in a house for lepers (quarantined) (3).

ca. 660 B.C.E.

Archilochus (GR) described phymatiasis (tuberculosis) which apparently included abscesses and tubercles (114).

Venerabili D'havantare (IN) in his System Medicine describes an incurable disease called "closing of the throat, arising from phlegm combined with blood." This could hardly be any other disease than diphtheria (2359). Quoted by Morell Mackenzie (1559).

ca. 620 B.C.E.

Moses (Hebrew) “And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron, saying, when a man shall have in the skin of his flesh a rising, a scab, or bright spot, and it be in the skin of his flesh like the plague of leprosy; then he shall be brought unto Aaron the priest, or unto one of his sons the priests: and the priest shall look on the plague in the skin of his flesh: and when the hair in the plague is turned white, and the plague in sight be deeper than the skin of his flesh, it is a plague of leprosy… (1724). Note: The skin disease described in Leviticus may not have been what we today call leprosy. Early physicians applied the word lepra to all scaly skin eruptions such as psoriasis.

Elijah (Hebrew) may have performed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on a child suffering from heat stroke. This was the first example of assisted respiration (4). 

An Assyrian tablet warns against “a noxious pustule in the ear of grain”. This was very likely ergot (Fr. argo, spur).

In 400 B.C.E the Parsees (followers of Zoroaster) wrote, “Among the evil things created … are noxious grasses that cause pregnant women to drop the womb and die in childbirth” (1022). Again this likely refers to ergot.

Grains infected with the fungus Claviceps purpurea produce a complex mixture of chemicals which, depending on dosage, are associated with ergotism, St. Anthony’s fire, contraction of the uterus and relief of migraine headache.

Adam Lonitzer; Adam Lonicer (DE) wrote that midwives used low doses of ergot to stimulate uterine contraction (1527).

John Stearns (US) described the value of ergot, “It expedites lingering parturition, and saves to the accoucheur a considerable portion of time, without producing any bad effects on the patient…. In most cases you will be surprised with the suddenness of its operation…. Since I have adopted the use of this powder I have seldom found a case that detained me more than three hours…. It is a vegetable, and appears to be a spurious growth of rye” (2313).

William J. Dieckmann (US) J.B. Forman (US), and G.W. Phillips (US) reported that ergonovine, an alkaloid isolated from ergot, has a powerful action upon contractions of the pregnant uterus (744). It is safe only in the third stage of labor.

Synonyms for ergotism include: St. Anthony's fire, holy fire, evil fire, devil's fire, and saints' fire.

ca. 610 B.C.E.

Thales of Miletus (GR), the philosopher and geometrician, was the first person to attempt to explain the variety of nature as the modification of something in nature. He believed that all vegetable and animal substances were derived from water.

It was Thales, who observed that yellow amber, when rubbed, had the power to attract light objects, such as feathers. The word electricity is derived from the Greek word for amber (2692).

Western philosophy and science begin with Thales (2101).

Erwin Schrödinger (AT) reasoned that science had begun at Ionia, the western fringe of Asia Minor (modern Turkey) and the islands off the coast. According to him there are three main reasons why science began here. First, the region did not belong to a powerful state, which are usually hostile to free thinking. Second, the Ionians were a seafaring people, who had to solve practical problems— navigation, means of transport, water supply, and handicraft techniques. Third, the area was not ‘priest-ridden’; there was not, as in Babylon or Egypt, a hereditary, privileged priestly caste with a vested interest in the status quo (2185). 

600 B.C.E.

The Sushruta Samhita tells of nasal reconstruction. The mutilation of the nose was rampant as a form of punishment in the past and this necessitated skin grafting for the repair of the mutilated nose (90, 1773, 2358).

ca. 580 B.C.E.

Anaximander (GR) saw spontaneous generation as a unique historical event, followed by the transmutation of and evolution of different forms. He held that the human young need a long period of care and protection, therefore had man always been as he is now, he could not have survived. Ergo man must once have been different, that is, he must have evolved from an animal which can fend for itself more quickly. He went on to state that man derives from the fish of the sea, and this he backed up by observations on fossil remains and on how sharks feed their young. Anaximander also theorized the existence of four basic elements, which were earth, air, fire, and water (1345, 2206).

ca. 570-480 B.C.E.

Xenophanes (GR) observed that fossils of seashells are sometimes found on mountain heights. From this he concluded that the sea at one time covered the material of the mountains (2743).

ca. 540 B.C.E.

Cyrus the Great, King of Persia (550-529B.C.), who established a board of health and a medical dispensary for his citizens, had water drawn from a designated stream then "boiled, and very many four-wheeled wagons drawn by mules carry it in silver vessels, following the king whithersoever he goes at any time" (1171).

522 B.C.E.

Democedes founds a medical school at Athens.

ca. 520 B.C.E.

Alcmaèon; Alkmaeon of Crotona (GR) was one of the first physicians to routinely dissect the human body and made many valuable discoveries in anatomy. He described the optic nerve and Eustachian tube, distinguished arteries from veins, taught that the brain is the center of thought, and refuted the belief that sperm originate from the spinal cord. He suggested that health might be defined as maintenance of equilibrium, or isonomy in the material of the body (1526, 1893). See, milieu intériieur of Claude Bernard, 1865 and homeostasis of Walter Bradford Cannon, 1926.

Plant diseases, most likely blight and mildew of grain, are mentioned in Israel (5, 6). 

ca. 500 B.C.E.

“Everything in the universe is the fruit of chance and necessity.” Democritus (GR) (1429).

“The first principles of the universe are atoms and empty space; everything else is merely thought to exist. Further, the atoms are unlimited in size and number, and they are borne along in the whole universe in a vortex, and thereby generate all composite things—fire, water, air, and earth; for even these are conglomerations of given atoms.” Democritus (GR) (1429).

“The world is made of two parts, the full (pleres, steron) and the empty, the vacuum (cenon, manon). The fullness is divided into small particles called atoms (atomon, that cannot be cut, indivisible). The atoms are infinite in number, eternal, absolutely simple; they are all alike in quality but differ in shape, order, and position. Every substance, every single object, is made up of those atoms, the possible combinations of which are infinite in an infinity of ways. The objects exist as long as the atoms constituting them remain together; they cease to exist when their atoms move away from one another. The endless changes of reality are due to the continual aggregation and disaggregation of atoms.” Democritus (GR) (2126).

Democritus (GR) and Leucippus (GR) were the first to teach that all matter is composed of infinitesimally small particles—the atomic theory. The motions and behavior of the atoms are not the result of the whims of the gods. Even the creation of the universe was a chance event once the atoms had been set into motion (369, 729).

“Man does not realize how that which varies is a unity. There is a harmony of opposite tensions as there is one of bow and lyre.” Heraclitus of Ephesus (GR) (1167)

Plato (GR) discussed abortion as follows: “It is the midwives who have the power to bring on the pains [in childbirth], and also, if they think it fit, to relieve them; they do it by the use of simple drugs, and by singing incantations. In difficult cases, too, they can bring about the birth; or, if they consider it advisable, they can promote a miscarriage” (1907).

Leonard Erskine Hill (GB) reported that the Greeks used carotid restriction as an anesthetic for surgery (1201).

480 B.C.E.

The Plague of Xerxes, probably an outbreak of dysentery, hit the Persian army, facilitating its defeat by the Greeks. The Greek historian Herodotus probably exaggerated its impact, but it is nonetheless significant as one of the first epidemics recorded in a lengthy written account (1396).

ca. 460 B.C.E.

“Man is the measure of all things, of those that are in so far as they are, and those that are not in so far as they are not.” Protagoras of Abdera (1038)

Anaxagoras of Clazomene (GR) was the first to teach that all heavenly bodies were brought into existence by the same processes that formed the earth and that all of these objects are made of the same materials (81).

Herodotus (GR) reported artificial pollination of date palms by the Arabs. He also noted that the skulls of slain Egyptian and Libyan soldiers were much thicker and less fragile than those of Persian soldiers. The Egyptians attributed this to the fact that they went bareheaded from birth while the Persians wrapped their heads in turbans. This may be the first reference to a relationship between bone quality and sunlight (1170).

Herodotus (GR) mentions one of the first examples of mutualism. Egyptian Plovers (Plovianus aegypticus or Hoplopterus armatus) picking leeches from inside the mouths of Nile crocodiles (Crocodylus niloticus), who, in “appreciation” for this service, never harmed the plovers (1172). 

Empedocles of Agrigentum (GR) was the first to teach that the heart is the center of the blood-vessel system. He postulated that all bodies are made from four elements: air, water, earth and fire, with life being derived from them and based on the existence of four essential qualities: heat, cold, moisture, and dryness. Later physicians would attach the four humors: blood, phlegm, black bile, and yellow bile to this concept (the doctrine of humors) (811).

ca. 450 B.C.E.

"Blessed is he who contemplates the ageless order of immortal nature, how it is constituted and when and why." Euripides (823)

Pien Ts’Io (CN) recognized the pulse beat as a diagnostic and prognostic criterion of pathology (1252). 

451 B.C.E.

A severe outbreak of an unidentified disease struck Rome, and was recorded by the historians Livy and Dionysius of Halicarnasus (1396).

Susruta (Hindu) described a procedure called couching, in which a cataractous lens is displaced with a sharp instrument so that it falls into the vitreous cavity, clearing the visual axis. Since there were no corrective glasses or lenses, vision was still significantly blurred. This earliest written reference to cataract surgery was found in Sanskrit manuscripts dating from the fifth century B.C.E. (11).

ca. 430 B.C.E.

Thucydides (GR) recognized contagion in the great plague of Athens during the Peloponnesian War. “Appalling too was the rapidity with which men caught the infection; dying like sheep if they attended on one another; and this was the principle cause of mortality. When they were afraid to visit one another, the sufferers died in solitude, so that many houses were empty because there had been no one left to take care of the sick; or if they ventured, they perished, those who aspired to heroism…. No one was ever attacked a second time or not with a fatal result.” This is recognition of specific immunity. The cause of this infection, which killed off a quarter of the Athenian army, cannot be firmly identified with any modern infection (2251). From other sources it is known that Pericles, the leader of the Athenians was a victim of this plague.

Philip A. Mackowiak (US) deduced that smallpox (red plague) was the most likely cause of this plague in Athens (1561).

Manolis J. Papagrigorakis (GR), Christos Yapijakis (GR), Philippos N. Synodinos (GR), and Effie Baziotopoulou-Valavani (GR) analyzed teeth recovered from a mass grave dated to 430 B.C.E., underneath Athens. They confirmed typhoid as the probable cause of the plague (272, 1834).

ca. 410 B.C.E.

“Swellings appeared about the ears…. In all cases they disappeared without giving trouble, neither did any of them come to suppuration, as is common in swellings from other causes. They were of a lax, large, diffused character, without inflammation or pain… In some instances earlier, and in others later, inflammations with pain seized sometimes one of the testicles, and sometimes both” Hippocrates (27). This is the first recorded epidemic of mumps as described by Hippocrates, who was probably present on the Island of Thasos where the epidemic struck around 410 B.C.E. (1396). He also recognized orchitis (inflammation of a testis) as its most frequent complication.

Robert Hamilton (GB) wrote of orchitis in mumps and suggested that the central nervous system was involved (1095).

Hippocrates; Hippocratus (GR) described the hydatid cyst associated with echinococcosis (27).

ca. 400 B.C.E.

“Life is short, and the Art long; the occasion fleeting; experience fallacious, and judgment difficult.” Hippocrates (1202)

Pyrethrum from the dried flower heads of Chrysanthemum cinerariifolium and Chrysanthemum coccineum was introduced as an insecticide in Persia (1832).

Hermann Staudinger (DE) and Lavoslav Ružička (NL) identified the active substances (pyrethrins) and their structure from the Dalmatian pyrethrum extract (2312).

Hippocrates; Hippocratus (GR) is the name given too as many as seven Greek physicians of whom the second is regarded as the most famous. He was born on the island of Cos in 460 or 459 B.C.E., and died at Larissa about 379. He founded a medical school on Cos at which students were taught that disease is a purely physical phenomenon, not ascribable to the gods; that moderation in diet is good, and that cleanliness and rest are important for those recovering from an illness or injury. Illness was regarded as an imbalance of the four humors: blood, which was made in the liver; phlegm, associated with the lungs; yellow bile, associated with the gall bladder; and black bile, associated with the spleen. The four main diseases characterized by an excess of one of the humors were sanguine (an excess of blood), phlegmatic (excess of phlegm), choleric (excess of yellow bile), and melancholic (excess of black bile). Good health was achieved when the four humors returned to their normal equilibrium concentrations. Bad air was also believed to cause disease when it contained a miasma (pollutant) inimical to mankind. The physician was encouraged to not interfere with the patient’s natural healing process. The lasting fame of the hippocratic approach rests on the fact that it put medicine on a scientific footing. The first rule was the observation of patient followed by the use of principles gradually derived from experience. In this way deductive reason could be brought to bear on the nature of the disease, its course and treatment. This is the source of the famous Aphorismi, short rules which contain at times principles derived from experience and at times conclusions drawn from the same source (1203, 1204, 1206).

Hippocrates; Hippocratus (GR) mentions oral thrush; aphthae in the mouth (1204).

Hippocrates; Hippocratus (GR) was the first to advocate the use of ligatures to tie off bleeders (1204).

The Hippopcratic Treatise states that the heart has four chambers with two auricles and two ventricles and reveals knowledge of the action of the semi-lunar valves of the aorta and pulmonary artery (1285).

The Hippopcratic Treatise states that night-blindness can be successfully treated with liver (1203, 1204).

The Hippopcratic Treatise describes empyema is this manner, “Empyema may be recognized in all cases by the following symptoms: In the first place, the fever does not go off, but is slight during the day, and increases at night, and copious sweats intervene, there is a desire to cough, and the patients expectorate nothing worth mentioning, the eyes become hollow…the nails of the hand are bent, the fingers are hot” (1203).

The Hippocratic Treatise describes gout (1203).

Hippocrates; Hippocratus (GR) gives a splendid description of a woman from Thasus who suffered from many of the features that we now recognize to be associated with the acute attack of porphyria (1203).

The Hippopcratic Treatise states that, ”Such persons as are seized with tetanus die within four days, or if they pass these they recover” (1203).

The Hippocratic Treatise describes an epidemic on the island of Thasos. From the description of the disease it was very likely relapsing fever that is caused by the bacterium Borrelia recurrentis (1203).

The Hippocratic Treatise describes a case of pleuritis (1877).

The Hippopcratic Treatise discusses epilepsy as a disturbance of the brain and states that the brain is involved with sensation and is the seat of intelligence. It emphasized that heredity plays an important role in the etiology of epilepsy (1203).

The Hippocratic Treatise refers to a disease whose symptoms include tertian (every 48 hours) or quartan (every 72 hours) fever and an enlarged spleen. There is a high probability that the disease was malaria (the ague) (344).

Hippocrates (GR) mentions Queen Anne's Lace, or Wild Carrot, in his writings as a highly effective oral contraceptive and as an abortifacient, i.e., causing abortion (1203).

David L. Keenan (US), Arunasalam M. Dharmarajan (AU), and Howard A. Zacur (US) found that in rabbits dietary carrot results in diminished ovarian progesterone secretion, whereas a metabolite, retinoic acid, stimulates progesterone secretion in the in vitro perfused rabbit ovary (1355). It continues to be used to this day as a sort of morning-after contraceptive, with women in parts of the rural United States drinking a teaspoonful of the seeds with a glass of water immediately after sex. A bit of trivia: Queen Anne's Lace is also known as Mother Die, because if you brought it into your house, according to superstition, your mother would die.

Hippocrates (GR) recorded an outbreak of a cough followed by pneumonia and other symptoms, at Perinthus in northern Greece (now part of Turkey). Several possible identifications have been suggested, including influenza, whooping cough and diphtheria (1396).

Bronze, S-shaped, urethral catheters with one terminal eye and size proportionate to age and sex were in common use (476).

Chalmers L. Gemmill (US) notes that one of the oldest known effective birth controls was a plant called silphium, a member of the Ferula genus. Apparently it was extremely effective and was used to extinction by the third or fourth century A.D. (979).

355-280 B.C.E.

Praxagoras of Cos (GR) established the diagnostic importance of the pulse and was probably the first to distinguish arteries from veins, believing that the arteries carried air. He created an entero-cutaneous fistula to relieve obstruction of the bowels (1940). See, earlier references to pulse, arteries, and veins.

ca. 350 B.C.E. 

“It is not hyperbole for us to say that all of biology is a footnote to Aristotle. He defined the field, outlined the major problems, and accumulated data to provide answers—he set the course” (1705).

“It is to Aristotle in the first place that we owe the distinction between those who describe the world in terms of myth and the supernatural, and those who first attempted to account for it by natural causes. The former he called theologi, the latter physici or physiologi, and he ascribes the beginning of the new, physical outlook to Thales and his successors at Miletus, hailing Thales himself as first founder of this kind of philosophy” (1077). See, Thales of Miletus, ca. 610 B.C.E.

Aristotle (GR) wrote the Historia Animalium, the first monograph on general biology, in which he discussed the structure, breeding habits, reproduction, behavior, ecology, distribution, and relationships of animals. He knew about parthenogenesis. He taught that nature is not capricious and can best be explained by observation rather than belief thus laying the foundation for all scientists who would follow. Aristotle sought to reduce the great diversity of natural phenomena into a comprehensible scheme by looking for unifying principles, without which rational thought is difficult. He maintained that there are natural groups among life forms which can be recognized by their common structure, physiology, behavior, and mode of action; realized that general concepts might emerge from the study of the same phenomenon in a variety of species; developed the concepts of homology versus analogy as a way of comparing life forms; used the term species to describe animals that are so alike that they are obviously of the same kind; observed the development of the chick and other eggs and noted that, “development from the egg proceeds in an identical manner in all birds”; recognized the oviparous, ovoviviparous, and viviparous patterns of generation; recognized the fundamental similarity of development in fish, bird, and mammal; argued for a physical basis of inheritance; realized that nails, hair, and horns all form from skin; provided argument and observation to support epigenesis; and suspected that problems of development and regeneration are similar. Aristotle also used the term genus in a context very similar to the way in which it is used today.

Aristotle (GR) provided the earliest taxonomic classification of fish, accurately describing 117 species of Mediterranean fish. Furthermore, he documented anatomical and behavioral differences between fish and marine mammals.

Aristotle (GR) was the first to explain deductive reasoning, the science of drawing conclusions from premises in formal syllogisms. He thought this was the basic tool for understanding any subject.

He termed the coelenterates Acalephae or Cnidae (Gk. akalephe, nettle; cnidos, thread) since he knew they could sting; and noted what was probably the larval stage (cysticerci) of the cestode parasite Taenia solium in the tongue of the hog, describing it as “hail.”

He did support some incorrect assumptions such as the belief that many animals arise spontaneously and not from kindred stock. According to him some animals came from dew falling on leaves, others from decaying mud, dung, or timber. Some were supposed to develop in the fur of animals or in the excrement after it had been voided or even while still within the living body. He states that flies come from grubs that develop in the dung that farmers have gathered up in heaps. Fleas, bugs, and lice were supposed to be produced from moisture and filth, and it was believed that some fish proceed from mud, sand, or decayed matter. Eels were thought by Aristotle to come from so-called Earth’s guts that grows in mud and humid ground.

Aristotle postulated an intrinsic directionality, or unfolding process in nature (orthogenesis), which was distilled in his concept of physis. He also inspired the concept of an ascending ladder of perfection, or hierarchy, that later came to be associated with the Latin phrase scala naturae (176).

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (DE), in 1686, would expand upon this subject as the “great chain of being.” The sense of permanence in the chain is crucial to understanding this conception of reality. One does not abandon one's place in the chain; it is not only unthinkable, but generally impossible (1480).

The ancients knew that compressing the carotid arteries, the principal arteries of the neck, causes loss of consciousness. The Greek word carotid means drowsiness, and carotid artery means the artery of sleep. Pressure on the jugular veins of the neck—the cutthroat veins—likewise causes insensibility. In a passage in his History of Animals, Aristotle says of the jugular veins: "If these veins are pressed externally, men, though not actually choked, become insensible, shut their eyes, and fall flat on the ground" (176, 2048).

The earliest record of buildings dedicated as hospitals comes from Mihintale in Sri Lanka. The identification is based on a tenth century inscription found at the site (1978).  

323 B.C.E.

Alexander the Great (MK) very likely died of typhoid fever complicated by bowel perforation and ascending paralysis (1561, 1788).

ca. 320 B.C.E.

Theophrastus of Ereus; Theophrastos of Eresus (GR) produced two great works on plants: Historia Plantarum, and De Causis Plantarum, in which he pursued the classification and physiology of plants. They include descriptions of 500 plants, many of which were promoted as having medicinal use including the first written record of the use of opium (See, Papyrus Ebers, 1500 B.C.E.). In addition to medicinal properties he discussed seeds, grafting, budding, and the effects of disease and weather on plants. He compared the formation of the plant in the seed to the fetus of an animal, something produced by it but not a part of it (2408-2412). These works are the oldest distinctively botanical treatise extant. The plant genus Theophrasta was dedicated to him by Linnaeus in 1740 (2537). He is also commemorated in the family Theophrastaceae.

Theophrastus of Ereus; Theophrastos of Eresus (GR) composed a treatise on amphibious fish (2244).

ca. 300 B.C.E.

“The Lord hath created medicines out of the earth; and he that is wise will not abhor them.” Ecclesiasticus 38:4

J. Jansen, Jr. (NL) and Hans J. Over (NL) revealed the presence of the parasitic worm Trichuris trichiura (whipworm) in a 2100 to 2500 year old human refuge mound in Northwest Germany (1325).

Erasistratus of Julis (of Ceos); Eristratos of Iulis (of Ceos) (GR-EG) explained his Air-Pneuma Theory. He believed in various types of interconnected pneuma, but they had a different course through the body. The first type, vital pneuma, came from air drawn through the trachea that was then changed into lung tissue. The vital pneuma, mixed with blood and then traveled in the arteries to the base of the brain where it was transformed into psychic pneuma. The psychic pneuma, sometimes referred to as animal spirit, aided the functioning of the brain and nerves. Erasistratus held that health and disease and, in fact, the nature of life were intimately connected with the pneuma.

Erasistratus' theory of circulation states that the right side of the heart receives blood and pumps it to the lungs, while the left side receives air from arteries in the lung and then pumps it throughout the body via the arterial system. Galen (Galeni), physician of Rome, attributes it to Greek physician Erasistratus of Julis (949).

Erasistratus of Julis was noted for his anatomical studies and rigorous seeking of causal explanations of diseases. For example, he described the valves of the heart, distinguished sensory and motor nerves, and accurately described the movement of food in the body (1349, 2269). 

Herophilus of Alexandria; Herophilos of Chalcedon; Herofilos of Chalkedon (GR) was probably the first to perform human dissections in public. He was very interested in comparing the human body with that of other animals. He described the brain, noting cerebrum and cerebellum, fourth ventricle, meninges, calamus scriptorius, and the torcular Herophilii; described the brain as the center of the nervous system, demonstrated the caudal extension of the hindbrain, naming it the ‘spinal cord’, and stated that ‘the neura that make voluntary motion possible have their origin in the cerebrum (enkephalos) and spinal marrow’. He divided nerves into sensory and motor, differentiated nerves from tendons, described the liver, pancreas, salivary glands, chyliferous vessels, genital organs, spleen, and eye; naming the retina. He named the duodenum and the prostate; described the ovaries and the tubes leading from them to the uterus. He observed that arteries pulsate and carry blood and are much thicker walled than veins. He regarded the pulse as an indicator of the strength of the heart and counted it with a water clock (944, 1507, 1690, 2613, 2614). See, Praxagoras of Cos, 355-280 B.C.E.

From the time of Herophilus the ancient Greeks believed the cerebral ventricles were where the animal spirits resided and the principal functional elements of the brain. The anterior or lateral ventricles were the receptacles of imagination, information, and sensory input; the middle or third ventricle was the seat of cogitation and judgment; the posterior or fourth ventricle housed the spirits of motion and memory. This was the prevailing viewpoint for nearly 2000 years (2355). 

Nei Ching [Canon of Medicine] is the greatest Chinese medical classic. It mentions four methods of examination: observation, hearing, inquiry, and palpation of the pulse. It contains a special section on acupuncture (1251).

Wang Shu-He (CN) wrote a treatise on pulse evaluation. In it he recognizes that decreased heart rate variability is a predictor for sudden death (1208).

Diocles of Carystus (GR) wrote the first known anatomy book and was the first to use the term anatomy (2484).

Alexandria, Egypt was the sight of the greatest museum and library of antiquity. Here also was the first great medical school that included laboratories, libraries and clinics. Ptolemy I, founder of the library and school gave permission for human dissection that allowed knowledge of the structure of the human body to rapidly advance. Religious prejudice had previously prevented the legal dissection of humans (1808). See, Hippocrates, 400 B.C.E.

ca. 279 B.C.E.

Erasistratus of Julis; Eristratos of Iulis (GR-EG) described how the human brain is divided into a larger (cerebrum) and a smaller (cerebellum) part; noted the convolutions on the brain’s surface and decided that the complexity of the convolutions is related to intelligence. He correctly interpreted the action of both sets of heart valves in relation to the heart beat and thought that all parts of the human body were served by a vein, artery, and nerve. Erasistratus described muscles as organs of contraction and discovered the chyliferous vessels in mesenteries and the epiglottis (819, 954, 1507).

276 B.C.E.

Demetrius of Apamea (SY) was one of the first to discern a difference between diabetes and other causes of polyuria (2613). Apamea is in modern day Syria.

ca. 275 B.C.E.

Nikandros of Colophon; Nicander of Colophon (EG) wrote two medical poems, Theriaca and Alexipharmaca. In Theriaca he describes poisonous animals such as the asp, viper, spider, scorpion, lizard, rat, flies, and some mythological creatures. In Alexipharmaca he mentions poisonous substances such as hemlock, cantharides (Cantharis is a genus of beetle, called the Spanish fly, which produces a lactone of cantharidic acid that will blister the skin. In moderate internal doses it is a diuretic and stimulant to reproductive organs hence its legendary status as the aphrodisiac, Spanish fly. In large doses it is a poison.), hyoscymus (a genus of solanaceous plants, henbane, which is narcotic, mydriatic, and analgesic), aconite, lead, opium, and mushrooms. This is the earliest mention in medical history of lead poisoning. He also describes the therapeutic use of leeches (539). The plant genus Nicandra was dedicated to him in 1763 (30). He is credited with being one of the earliest toxicologists.

ca. 250 B.C.E.

Aretaios; Aretaeus the Cappadocian (Roman) included detailed descriptions of an unnamed disease in his writings. When describing his patients he referred to them as "koiliakos," which meant "suffering in the bowels."  Francis Adams translated these observations from Greek to English for the Sydenham Society of England in 1856. He thus gave sufferers the moniker "celiacs" or "coeliacs."  Thus Europe uses the spelling coeliac disease with the "o".

Giovanni Battista Gasbarrini (IT), Luca Miele (IT), Gino R. Corazza (IT), and Antonio Gasbarrini (IT) reported the “case of Cosa”, which revealed a skeleton of a first century AD young woman at the archaeological site of Cosa, southwest of Tuscany, Italy. She was an 18-20 year-old woman, with signs of failure to thrive and malnutrition.  The skeleton showed typical celiac disease damage and the presence of HLA-DQ2.5 (973). See, Samuel Joes Gee, 1888

ca. 230 B.C.E.

Ammonios; Lithotomos (EG) is the first physician reported to have performed lithotrity. He passed a hook over the stone to secure it in position and then took a thin but blunt instrument “and this when applied to the stone and forcibly struck at the other end, splits it in twain” (475).

Caelius Aurelianus (Roman) credits Apollonius Memphites; Apollonius Memfites; Apollonius Stratonicus (EG) with coining the name diabetes for an affliction he considered a form of dropsy. The name he chose was derived from the Ionian Greek verb diabainein, meaning to pass through (dia - through, betes - to go). Caelius Aurelianus’ medical works consist of a translation of Soranus of Ephesus (2nd century) —Tardae [Chronicae Passiones], in five books, and Celeres [Acutae Passiones] in three books (136).

John Rollo (GB) was the first to add the adjective mellitus to diabetes when he published a paper entitled, An Account of Two Cases of Diabetes Mellitus. He applied the name mellitus, derived from the Latin and Greek roots for honey, to distinguish diabetes mellitus from other causes of polyuria (excessive urine production) in which the urine has no sweet taste. He termed the other causes of polyuria diabetes insipidus (from the Latin for tasteless), a term still in use today. Rollo applied his understanding of diabetes toward the development of a treatment, which included a high protein, low carbohydrate diet and compounds that would suppress the appetite such as antimony, digitalis and opium. On this regimen, some of his patients' symptoms improved (2059). See, Willis 1684.

212 B.C.E.

The Roman army was struck by an infectious disease, perhaps influenza, described by the historian Livy (1396).

ca. 190 B.C.E.

Marcus Porcius Cato (Roman) wrote De Re Rustica [De Agri Cultura], the first book of botanical interest in the Latin language. It contains much information on the propagation of desirable plant varieties and the various methods of grafting (466). The plant genus Catonia was dedicated to him in 1756 (410). 

140 B.C.E.

Agatharchides of Cnidus (GR) refers to the disease now known to be caused by the parasitic nematode Dracunculus medinensis. This disease is called dracontiasis, dracunculiasis, dracunculosis, Medina worm infection, and Guinea worm infection (2351).

ca. 120 B.C.E.

Ssu-ma Chien (CN) tells us that, “In the area south of the Yangtse the land is low and the climate humid; adult males die young” (1778). 

Mithradates VI Eupator, King of Pontus (Northern Anatolia) from 120-63 B.C.E., is given credit for the observation that taking very small doses of a poison and gradually increasing the dose can produce resistance to some poisons (1019).

100 B.C.E.

Asclepiades of Bithynia (GR) advocated humane treatment of mental disorders, he had insane persons freed from confinement and treated them with natural therapy, such as diet and massages. He described a tracheostomy incision for improving the airway (123).

ca. 58-51 B.C.E.

Catuvolcus (DE), a chieftain of the Eburones, committed suicide during the Gallic Wars by taking extracts from the yew tree. This is the first mention in history of what was very likely taxol (1593). verify

Marcus Annaeus Lucanus (Roman) described how the people of the Psylli tribe of North Africa had the long standing practice of mixing the dried and pulverized poison glands from different venomous snakes and placing them under the skin to produce immunity to snakebite. He fabricated the word immunity from the Latin immunitas and immunis derived from the notion of being exempt from service to the state (1542, 2256).

ca. 50 B.C.E.

Tseen Han Shoo (CN) says, “On passing the Great Big Headache Mountain, and the Little Headache Mountain, the Red Land and the Fever Slope, men's bodies become feverish, they lose color, and are attacked with headache and vomiting; the asses and cattle being all in like condition” (1099). This is possibly the earliest reference to high-altitude mountain sickness.

Cleopatra, the Queen of Egypt (EG), to help her physicians learn about the development of the human embryo through dissection, presented them with maids in various stages of pregnancy and condemned to death (1404).

46 B.C.E.

"Not to know what happened before you were born is to be a child forever. For what is the time of a man, except it be interwoven with that memory of ancient things of a superior age?" [Nescire autem quid ante quam natus sis acciderit, id est semper esse puerum. Quid enim est aetas hominis, nisi ea memoria rerum veterum cum superiorum aetate contexitur?]. Marcus Tullius Cicero (506, 507)

ca. 45 B.C.E.

“Nature has planted in our minds an insatiable longing to see the truth.” Marcus Tullius Cicero (505)

“But for my part I wonder at memory in a still greater degree. For what is it that enables us to remember, what character has it, or what is its origin?… Do we think there is … a sort of roominess into which the things we remember can be poured as if into a kind of vessel? … Or do we think that …memory consists of the traces of things registered in the mind? What can be the traces of words, of actual objects, what further could be the enormous space adequate to the representation of such a mass of material?” Marcus Tullius Cicero (505)

Titus Lucretius Carus (Roman), in what is very likely a reference to hypersensitivity says, “What is food to one man may be fierce poison to another” (1546).

ca. 30 B.C.E.

Publius Virgilius Maro; Virgil (Roman) wrote the poem Georgica which includes much information on agriculture and gardening (1613). The plant genus Virgilia was dedicated to him by Lamarck in 1793.

Aulus Aurelius Cornelius Celsus (Roman) in the time of Tiberius and Augustus, wrote De Re Medica Libri VIII in which he surveyed the medical sciences from Hippocrates to imperial times. He described peripneumonia (obviously our pneumonia) and spleens so large as to be felt and firm enough to resist pressure; certainly some of these were the result of malaria. There is mention of a “distemper seated in the large intestine principally affecting that part I mentioned the caecum to be, and accompanied by violent inflammation and vehement pains, particularly on the right side,” yet appendicitis did not enter the death records until after 1880. He describes in this work the practice of needling, or discission, of cataracts, a technique in which the cataract is broken up into smaller particles, thereby facilitating their absorption. He recommended suturing the edges of a fresh wound to seal it. Celsus advised that amputation incision should leave enough healthy skin to close over the tip of the amputated member. Before closure, he removed clotted blood, "for it becomes converted into pus, and by exciting inflammation impedes the agglutination of the wound. Celsus was the first to describe human rabies. He used the term hydrophobia (fear of water). He thought that the saliva of a sick animal transmitted the infection. Celsus was the first to discuss warts. He is possibly the first to mention reconstructive surgery and very likely the first to describe collateral circulation of blood (Celsus 29; Celsus 1814; Celsus 1935; Long 1965).

Aulus Aurelius Cornelius Celsus (Roman) states, “Now there follows the treatment of fevers, a class of disease which both affects the body as a whole, and is exceedingly common. Of fevers, one is quotidian, another tertian, a third quartan” (476). Doubtless this fever is malarial.

27 B.C.E.

Marcus Terentius Varro (Roman) in advise to those about to select a place for a dwelling said, "Precautions must also be taken in the neighborhood of swamps, both for the reasons given, and because there are bred certain minute creatures which cannot be seen by the eyes, which float in the air and enter the body through the mouth and nose and there cause serious diseases" (784, 2543).

Marcus Terentius Varro (Roman) wrote Disciplinarum Libri IX [Nine Books of Disciplines], a lost work, in which he outlined nine arts: grammar, rhetoric, logic, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, musical theory, medicine, and architecture. Later writers omitted the last two arts. The seven liberal arts would later form the basis of modern educational systems in Western culture (447, 1507, 2029).

ca. 20 B.C.E. 

Dionysius of Halicarnassus (GR) recorded that during a great epidemic those who touched the sick and suffering, while trying to help them, became sick with the same illness (747).

ca. 10 B.C.E.

Lucius Junius Moderatus Columella (Roman) wrote a very large twelve-volume work, which included husbandry, grafting, the use of the hotbed, the treatment of cultivated plants and trees and the use of rennet to make cheese (540). The plant genus Collumella was dedicated to him in 1794 (2089).

4 B.C.E.

Herod the Great, King of Judea, Idumaea, Samraritis, Peraea, Heshbon, Gaulantis, Batanea, Trachonitis, Auranitis, Gaza, Hippos and Gadara very likely died of hypertension, atherosclerosis, and heart failure (1561).

ca. 1

The Chinese began to treat malaria with Qing hao (Artemesia annua, called wormwood) and yingzhaosu (1966). The active ingredient from Qing hao is called artemisinin, which is a sesquiterpene peroxide.

ca. 41

Claudius Tiberius Germanicus Britannicus (Roman), Prince of Rome, exhibited the second known recorded allergic reaction in history, and the first of the Christian era. Britannicus could not ride a horse without presenting all the signs of an anaphylactic reaction (1920, 2356). Note: On the basis of various literature sources—mainly Suetonius, Plinius the Younger—typical symptoms of atopic diseases are described in some members of the Julio-Claudian family. Emperor Augustus could have suffered from bronchial asthma, seasonal rhinitis and atopic eczema, while Emperor Claudius showed signs of perennial rhinoconjunctivitis and Britannicus of horse dander allergy (1920, 2356). Based on present-day standards, this can be regarded as a typical positive family history of atopy.


Tiberius Claudius Drusus Nero Germanicus; Claudius (Roman), Emperor of Rome, was very likely given poisonous mushrooms by his fourth wife Agrippina to promote her son Nero (whom Claudius had adopted) to the throne (1561, 2466).

ca. 64

Pedanois Dioskorides; Pedanius Dioscorides; Discorides (Greek-Roman) of Anatolia attempted to accumulate all medical knowledge in his Materia Medica. This work includes the preparation, storage, genuineness, use, doses and effects of simple drugs and excellent descriptions of some 600 plants. He tells how to prepare mercury from cinnebar, potash from tartar, lead soap (plaster) and zinc soap (plaster) by boiling fat with lead oxide and zinc oxide and gives many tests for chemical substances. The medicinal uses of willow (salicylates), acacia, aloes, vinegar, alum, ammonia, starch, nutgalls, apocyanum, silver, cannabis, cantharides, cardamon, cassia, cerussa (lead), hemlock, colchicum, colocynth, croton oil, gentian, hellebore, hyoscyamus, mercury, opium, mandragora, peppermint, salt, mustard, solanum, thyme, and tragacanth are discussed. The use of mandragora in wine is one of the recommended anesthetics. He described general, rectal, and local anesthesia and gives us the first record of how opium was derived from poppy heads of Papaver somniferum (748). Materia Medica is the first systematic pharmacopeia.

“During more than sixteen centuries he was looked upon as the sole authority, so that everything botanical began with him. Everyone who undertook the study of botany, or the identification of medicines swore by his words. Even as late as the beginning of the seventeenth century both the academic and the private study of botany may almost be said to have begun and ended with the text of Dioscorides” (2302). The plant genus Dioscorea was dedicated to him in 1703 (1926). The family, Dioscoreaceae, also commemorates him. 


Lucius Annaeus Seneca (Roman) wrote, “Letters, however minute and obscure, are seen larger and clearer through a glass bulb filled with water.” He also noted the tendency for gout to run in families (2217).

ca. 77-79

"Hail to thee, Nature, thou parent of all things! and do thou deign to show thy favor unto me, who, alone of all the citizens of Rome, have, in thy every department, thus made known thy praise." Caius Plinius Secundus; Pliny the Elder (Roman) (1917)

Caius Plinius Secundus; Pliny the Elder (Roman) wrote his great natural history book in which he discussed the following: 1) the world, the elements, and the heavenly bodies, 2) geography, in which is contained an account of the situation of the different countries, the inhabitants, the seas, towns, harbors, mountains, rivers, and dimensions, and the various tribes, some of which still exist and others have disappeared, 3) man, and the inventions of man, 4) various kinds of land animals, 5) aquatic animals, 6) various kinds of birds, 7) insects, 8) odoriferous plants, 9) exotic trees, 10) vines, fruit trees, 11) forest trees, 12) plants raised in nurseries or gardens, 13) nature of fruits and the cerealia, and the pursuits of the husbandman, 14) flax, broom, and gardening, 15) cultivated plants that are proper for food and for medicine, 16) flowers and plants that are used for making garlands, 17) garlands, and medicines made from plants, 18) medicines made from wine and from cultivated trees, 19) medicines made from forest trees, 20) medicines made from wild plants, 21) new diseases, and medicines made, for certain diseases, from plants, 22) plants and medicines, 23) medicines procured from man and from large animals, 24) medical authors, and on medicines from other animals, 25) magic, and medicines for certain parts of the body, 26) medicines from aquatic animals, and 27) other properties of aquatic animals (1915-1918).

Caius Plinius Secundus; Pliny the Elder (Roman) referred to album ovi as albumen; which may well be the first written reference to a specific protein. He described how people on the island of Chios prepared starch from cereal flour and used it as an adhesive. He noted that growing beans fertilized the ground in which they were grown as well as did application of animal manure. He described the use by Romans of both spherical and lens-shaped glasses as burning glasses and wrote "Emeralds are usually concave so that they may concentrate the visual rays. The Emperor Nero used to watch in an Emerald the gladiatorial combats.” This quote appears to be the first description of using a monocle for correcting shortsighted vision. The plant genus Plinia was dedicated to him in 1703 (1926).

Pliny also mentions that the Romans held a spring festival, the Robigalia, to ward off the rubigo or rust, “the greatest pest of the crops.” He advocated the use of arsenic as an insecticide.

Pliny describes what were undoubtedly the first recorded autopsies—”proofe whereof was found and seen in Egypt by occasion that the KK there, caused dead bodies to be cut up, and anatomies to be made, for to search out maladies whereof men died” (1915-1918).

Antoine Francois Fourcroy (FR) was the first to find albumen in plants (910). 

Michel-Eugène Chevreul (FR) determined that albumen is common to both plants and animals (494).

ca. 79

Caius Plinius Caecilius Secondus; Plinius the Younger (Roman), writing to Tacitus, says, “Leaning on two servants, he brought himself upright and immediately collapsed again, I suppose because his breathing was affected by the dense fog that obstructed his airways that were of a weak nature, narrow and subject to inflammation” (1919, 1920).

It is therefore to Plinius the Younger that we owe the first description of a fatal respiratory disorder induced by natural air pollution. The patient was Plinius the Elder, head of the Roman fleet, who had moved to Pompeii in the Bay of Naples (Italy), to observe the eruption of Mount Vesuvius and to help inhabitants of Pompeii in the year 73 A.D.


Plague followed the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius.

ca. 100

Ruphos of Ephesus; Rufus of Ephesus (Greek-Roman) wrote, On the Names of the Various Parts of the Body, the first comprehensive treatise of human anatomy; On the Interrogation of the Patient, concerning the taking of patient history; Treatise on the Pulse, in which, among other things, he stated that pulse resulted from systole and not diastole and that the dura mater “has a movement in time with the pulse”; Treatise on Diseases of the Kidneys and of the Bladder, in which he described inflammation of the kidneys, suppuration of the kidneys, kidney stones, hematuria, diabetes, cystitis, stones in the bladder, tumors of the bladder, and chronic nephritis; and On Satyriasis and Gonorrhoea, in which he notes that semen is formed in the testicles and is carried to the penis by a vessel other than the spermatic artery or vein.

In a fragment from Aetios he recognized suppositories as a method for introducing drugs, such as wormwood, hyssop (from Hyssopus officinalis), pyrethrum, mercury, thyme, and cyclamen. In a fragment preserved by Oreibasios he recommended inducing fever to treat convulsions, epilepsy, asthma (orthopnoea), melancholia, certain skin diseases, tetanus, and the woman in labor with convulsion (424, 2086).

Ruphos of Ephesus; Rufus of Ephesus (Greek-Roman) first described the optic chiasm and oviduct of sheep (818).

Isaac Newton (GB) briefly described the pathway of nerve fibers through the optic chiasm in animals that have both eyes look the same way (men, dogs, sheep, oxen, etc.). He deduced that only the optic nerve fibers from the nasal side of the retina crossed at the chiasma and noted that in animals in which both eyes don’t look the same way (fishes, lizards, etc.) there is no optic chiasm (1770).

Johann Gottfried Zinn (DE) anatomically confirmed Newton’s deduction about a partial crossing of nerve paths in the optic chiasm (2763).

William Hyde Wollaston (GB) rediscovered the route of the nerve fibers through the optic chiasm (2731).

Hermann Munk (DE) presented a detailed anatomy of the optic chiasm and its association with the occipital cortex in the dog (1741).

Hindu doctors had perfected twenty kinds of knives for different surgical procedures (2646).

The earliest unequivocal epidemic of bubonic plague in the Mediterranean occurred in Libya, Egypt and Syria (1396). Rufus of Ephesus, who lived in the time of Emperor Trajan, preserved in the Collection of Oribasius, speaks of the buboes called pestilential as being especially fatal, and as being chiefly in Libya, Egypt, and Syria (432).

ca. 120 

Soranos of Ephesus (Greek-Roman) wrote, On Acute and Chronic Diseases, On the Signs of Fractures, and Diseases of Women. He was clearly the foremost obstetrician and gynecologist of antiquity, his Diseases of Women standing as a monumental work. In this work he described the anatomy of the uterus, discussed menstruation, fertility, signs of pregnancy, prenatal treatment, care of the newborn, dysmenorrhoea, uterine hemorrhage, the obstetrical chair, the vaginal speculum, a syringe for injections into the womb, dystocia (labor difficulties), moving the child in the uterus to present a favorable position for birth, methods for extracting the fetus which threatens the mother’s life because it cannot pass through the birth canal, pros and cons of virginity, prevention of conception, breast milk, wet nurses, diet of the nurse, diseases of the infant, teething, amenorrhea, diseases of the uterus, and diseases of the external genitalia (2286, 2287).

ca. 140

Claudius Ptolemaeus; Ptolemy (GR-Roman-EG) investigated the problem of magnification by means of curved surfaces (1965).

ca. 150

Antyllus (Greek-Roman), the greatest surgeon of antiquity, left precise instructions for performing such operations as removal of cataracts, aneurysms, tracheotomy, excision of scars, operations on fistula, breast, abdomen, contractures, resection of bones and joints, phimosis (tightness of the foreskin) and hypospadia (congenital opening of the urethra on the underside of the penis or into the vagina), venesection (bloodletting), and arteriostomy. ” Antyllus applied ligatures to the arteries that entered and left the aneurysm and then cut into the aneurysm sac, evacuated the contents, and packed the cavity. Antyllus did not resect the aneurysm sac. He stated, “Those who tie the artery, as I advise, at each extremity, but amputate the intervening dilated part, perform a dangerous operation. The violent tension of the arterial pneuma often displaces the ligatures.” It would be 16 centuries before this operation would be improved upon (94, 1572, 1798, 2732). 

ca. 160

“Diabetes is a dreadful affection, not very frequent among men, being a melting down of the flesh and limbs into urine…. The patients never stop making water, but the flow is incessant, as if from the opening of aqueducts. The nature of the disease, then, is chronic, and it takes a long period to form; but the patient is short-lived, if the constitution of the disease be completely established; for the melting is rapid, the death speedy.” Aretaeus the Cappadocian (119)

“Arthritis is a general pain of all the joints; that of the feet we call Podagra; that of the hip joint, Schiatica; that of the hand, Chiragra…. Arthritis fixes itself…sometimes in the hip-joints; and for the most part in these cases the patient remains lame in it.” Aretaeus the Cappadocian (119)

Aretaios; Aretaeus the Cappadocian (Roman) wrote, On the Causes and Symptoms of Acute Diseases, On the Causes and Symptoms of Chronic Diseases, On the Therapeutics of Acute Diseases, and On the Therapeutics of Chronic Diseases. Few physicians match his descriptions and diagnoses of diseases in antiquity. He described diphtheria (the Syrian ulcer), tetanus, biliary tract disease, ascites, priapism, pneumonia, pleurisy, asthma (orthopnoea), epilepsy, diabetes mellitus, and diabetes insipidus, sprue (thrush), heart-afflictions, elephantiasis, hypogonadism, and hydatid disease (28, 118, 119).

Special Chinese handbooks for travelers to the south prescribed suitably exotic regimens and medicines for the malignant diseases encountered south of the Yangtse River (1646).


The Antonine Plague, or Plague of Galen, was probably smallpox (red plague) or measles, or both, and was brought back to the Roman Empire by troops returning from the Middle East. The Roman emperors Lucius Verus and Marcus Aurelius Antoninus both died from it, in 169 and 180 respectively. This pandemic ravaged the entire extent of the Roman Empire, from its eastern frontiers in Iraq to its western frontiers on the Rhine River and Gaul, modern France, and Western Germany. It ravaged the Roman Empire at recurrent intervals for more than 100 years likely playing a significant role in the decline and fall of this great superpower (1396).

ca. 175

“When the tumor extends its feet from all sides of its body into the veins, the sickness produces the picture of a crab.” Claudii Galeni (1416)

Galen; Galenos; Claudii Galeni; Aelius Galenus; Claudius Galenus; Clarissimus Galen of Pergamum (modern Turkey) (GR-Roman) became court physician to Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus. He emphasized the use of the pulse as a diagnostic aid and described how urine flows through the ureters to the bladder and associated the kidneys with urine formation. He deduced that the arteries and veins are connected. He advocated thinking of the human body as an integrated whole rather than a collection of parts. Later scientists applied this concept to all multicellular creatures. Galen believed that there was a correlation of the parts of the body of different organisms and thus he led the way to comparative anatomy/physiology. He described phthisis (pulmonary tuberculosis) accurately and stressed the importance of climate and full diet in its treatment. He distinguished pleurisy from pneumonia, described true (arterial dilation) and false (arterial rupture) aneurysms, gallstones, and encephalitis lethargica. He controlled hemorrhage with pressure torsion of the artery, cautery or ligation. He used silk and catgut for sutures. 

By experiments in which he cut the intercostal nerves, excised a rib, or performed a transverse section of the spinal cord above the origin of the phrenic nerve, he concluded that chiefly the diaphragm itself performed ordinary respiration, and that the intercostal muscles were called into play only on forced respiration. He demonstrated in the pig that cutting the laryngeal nerve rendered the pig unable to squeal. Since this nerve came from the brain it disproved Aristotle’s teaching that the brain was not associated with sensation. He elucidated laryngeal and tracheal anatomy. He was the first to localize voice production to the larynx and to define laryngeal innervations. Additionally, he described the supralaryngeal contribution to respiration, i.e., warming, humidifying, and filtering. Galen studied the relationship between paralysis and severance of the spinal cord. He distinguished between motor and sensory nerves. He stated that, each muscle has only one active movement (that of contraction, since muscles are only extended in passive obedience to the active movement of the opposing muscle) not six, as was commonly believed.

He coined the term gonorrhea, wrote a detailed record of malaria, and described what were very likely Ascaris, Enterobius, and Taenia

Galen apparently had an excellent command of medicinal botany and recommended that other physicians do likewise. Linnaeus dedicated the botanical genus Galenia to him in 1737.

His proofs came by reason and experiment yet Galen’s greatest shortcoming was that what he didn’t know he tried to guess (949, 954-956, 958-960, 1415, 1512).

ca. 185

Dion Cassius (Roman) related that during the reign of the Roman Emperor Commodus, in the midst of a particular pestilence, many persons not only in the city but in the whole Roman Empire were killed by wicked wretches, who for a stipulated reward dipped small needles into the pestilent poison and thus communicated the disease to others (96).

ca. 200

Fevers, including regularly recurring fevers that must have been malarial, figure very prominently in ancient Chinese medical writings, a fact that supports the notion that such afflictions influenced the early centuries of Chinese expansion (483).

A well-preserved Cyprian corpse from this period, exhibiting evidence of chronic schistosomiasis, was recently discovered (1091).

Galen; Galenos; Claudii Galeni; Aelius Galenus; Claudius Galenus; Clarissimus Galen of Pergamum (modern Turkey) (GR-Roman) counseled patients suffering from "mania" to bathe in, and even drink the water from, alkaline springs. Interestingly, lithium is abundant in some alkaline mineral-spring waters (1416).

Chang Chung-Ching (CN) wrote Essay on Typhoid, an important medical classic (503, 504).


The Plague of Cyprian takes its name from Saint Cyprian, bishop of Carthage, who described symptoms that suggest measles or smallpox (red plague) rather than bubonic plague. This epidemic killed the Roman emperor Claudius II Gothicus in the year 270, and is credited with encouraging mass conversions to Christianity. It has also been suggested as the time when Christians first began wearing black as the color of mourning (1239, 1396).

ca. 340

Shapur II; Shapur the Great (Persian) established a university at Jundi-Shapur in Persia (1572).


Themistius (Byzantine) suggested to Emperor Constantius that a scriptorium be created and funded to guarantee the survival of ancient literature. The Emperor issued an order to create the scriptorium in 372 (2712).

ca. 375

Oreibasios; Oribasius of Pergamum (modern Turkey) is best known because his writings preserved the works of others who would otherwise have been lost, writers like Galen, Antyllus, Archiagenes, and Dioskorides. He wrote over 70 books (1798).

ca. 400

The Talmud advocated longitudinal incision in tracheostomy (1713).

The Imperial University at Constantinople was founded (2646).

To avoid persecution, many Nestorians (a Christian sect) fled the Western Empire to settle in Gondeshapur is Southwest Persia near Baghdad. Here there arose a large community of physicians interested in all types of medical information. To gain this information they became a major center for the translation of foreign medical texts into Syriac and Aramaic, then after 638 into Arabic. Gondeshapur was ecumenical and international, with many Jewish, pagan, and Christian citizens (2646).

One should realize that Mediaeval, midwives in Europe —5th through 15th centuries— alone proceeded in amputation of totally prolapsed or everted uteri following delivery.

ca. 500

Julio Caesar Tello (PE) was inspired by the discovery in 1910 of the Paracas Textile (ca. 100 B.C.E.) at the site of Cabeza Larga on the Paracas Peninsula on the south coast of Peru. In his 1925 excavations Tello found coca leaves (Erythroxylum coca) placed in an urn which accompanied the burial of a Peruvian priest, noble, or king (Nazca period). This is the earliest record of the use of coca leaves (2398).

Greek and Roman physicians wrote about genital warts. They were the first to note the sexual transmission of genital warts (426).


Procopius (GR) described the great pandemic which occurred during this year of the Emperor Justinian’s reign. It’s spread within the Mediterranean by ship; the pattern of infection and details of its incidence as described make it unmistakably the plaque (Yersinia pestis) (1960).

Edward Gibbon (GB), in chapter forty-three, recounts that in the year 543 ten thousand people died each day in Constantinople (991).


Aetios Amidenus; Aetius Amidenus; Aëtius of Amida (Byzantine) uses the term eczema to denote ‘hot and painful phlyctenae (nodular affections occurring as an allergic response of the conjunctival and corneal epithelium) which do not ulcerate’ (2693).

Robert Willan (GB) was the next to use the term eczema. It was defined as “an eruption of minute vesicles, non-contagious, crowed together; and which from the absorption of the fluid they contain form into thin flakes or crusts. Lesions had an affinity for the inner thighs, axillae, infromammary area, and anus, lacked surrounding inflammation, and smarted rather than itched (2696).

ca. 550

Aetios Amidenus; Aetius Amidenus; Aëtius of Amida (Byzantine), personal physician of the Emperor Justinian, wrote Medicinae Tetrabiblios in which he gave a good description of diphtheria, discussed many afflictions of the eye, accounts for elephantiasis, ileus, the varieties of headache, pneumonia, pleurisy, epilepsy. He describes tonsillectomy, urethrotomy, treatment of hemorrhoids, and ligation of the brachial artery above the sac for aneurysm. He recognized three intestinal worms—taenia, ascaris, and oxyuria. To treat tapeworms he recommended pomegranate and wormgrass, for round worms, artemisia (santonin) and coriander. Oxyuria he treated with enemata (77).

Writing on pestilential lesions of the tonsils, he stated, “They occur most frequently in children, but also in adults. Usually in children the evils known as aphthae develop. These are white, like blotches; some are ashen in color or like eschars from the cautery. The patient suffers from a dryness of the gullet and frequent attacks of choking …. a spreading sore supervenes in the region afflicted. In some cases the uvula is eaten up and when the sores have prevailed a long time and deepened, a cicatrix forms over them and the patient’s speech becomes rather husky and, in drinking, liquid is diverted upward to the nostrils. I have known a girl to die even after forty days when already on the way to recovery” (34).

The Hindus described honey urine as one of the symptoms of a disease (diabetes). They believed it resulted from over-indulgence in rice (Oryza sativa), flour, and sugar (1549).


A smallpox (red plague) epidemic struck Arabia and forced the Ethiopian army to retreat, thus ending their rule there. This was known as the Elephant War epidemic, for the white elephant on which the Christian prince Abraha rode into Mecca before his defeat, and is described in the Koran. It was one of the earliest recorded epidemics of smallpox (1396).


Marius, Bishop of Avenches (CH), was the first to use the term variola, meaning stained skin (398).


An epidemic of quinsy (esquinancie) is mentioned in the Chronicle of St. Denis. Esquinancie is an inflammation of the throat—probably diphtheria (1955).


Gregory of Tours describes a smallpox (red plague) epidemic at Tours (1045).


Bubonic plague killed Pope Pelagius II, who was succeeded by the reformer Gregory the Great (1396).

An epidemic of St. Anthony’s Fire (ergotism) occurred in France. Synonyms for ergotism include: St. Anthony's fire, holy fire, evil fire, devil's fire, and saints' fire.

ca. 600

Vilhelm Moller-Christensen (DK) states that the disease that would later be called Hansen’s disease (leprosy) appears to have established itself in Europe and the Mediterranean coastlands (396).


Aaron of Alexandria (Persian) describes smallpox (red plague) in his Pandectae Medicinus (56, 1621).

ca. 640

The Arabs conquered Alexandria, in Egypt, and ordered the contents of its great library to be used as fuel to heat the public baths. The burning scrolls heated the bath waters of Alexandria for six months (2566).

Paulus Aegineta of Alexandria (Byzantine), also called Paul of Aegina, performed many modern operations, among others those within the abdominal cavity. He gives symptoms of a disease that was very likely lead poisoning (33).

He promoted and modified the Hippocratic method of traction for spinal dislocations and was reported to use the "hot iron." More importantly, he is the first to hypothesize the concept of decompressive surgery/laminectomy for the treatment of this disorder. Additionally, he is credited as the first advocate for surgical removal of fractured spinous processes to relieve pain. His wound management was quite sophisticated for prevention of infection. He used wine (helpful in antisepsis, although this concept was then unknown) (1023, 1394, 1612).

Chen Chhuan (CN), in his book Ku Chin Lu Yen Fano, was the first Chinese physician to mention sweetness of the urine in sugar diabetes (1656).


“Life is as if on a winter’s night you sit feasting with your ealdormen and thegns, a single sparrow should fly swiftly into the hall, and coming in at one door instantly fly out through another. In that time in which it is indoors it is indeed not touched by the fury of the winter, but yet, this smallest space of calmness being passed almost in a flash, from winter going into winter again, it is lost to your eyes. Somewhat like this appears the life of man; but of what follows or what went before, we are utterly ignorant.” The Venerable Bede (214)

The Venerable Bede (GB) described an epidemic in Ireland that was most likely relapsing fever, caused by the bacterium Borrelia recurrentis (1554).


Plague again struck Rome and Italy, and is credited with the origin of the cult of St. Sebastian, a third century martyr who was regarded as a protector against disease because the epidemic abated after his bones were moved from Rome to the church of San Pietro in Vincoli in Pavia (1396).

Li Hsuan (CN), in his book Hsiao Kho Lun, was perhaps the first to discuss at length the reason for sweetness of the urine in disease. He is quoted as saying that in Hsiao Kho illness (diabetes), three things must be renounced: wine, sex, and eating salty cereal products. If this regime is carried out, cure may be possible without drugs. One must also be on the lookout for the development of boils and carbuncles, because if such develop near joints, the prognosis is very bad (1656).


Japan suffered repeated epidemics of smallpox (red plague). The one in 735-736 killed several members of the ruling Fujiwara family, and led to a religious fervor that facilitated the spread of Buddhism (1396).


Constantinople was struck again by plague (1396).

ca. 750

Abu Musa Jabir Ibn Hayyan; Geber (Arabian), a famous alchemist, produced sulfuric, nitric, and nitro-muriatic acids (1317). Note: Aqua regia is a mixture of nitric acid and hydrochloric acid, optimally in a molar ratio of 1:3. .... Antoine Lavoisier called aqua regia nitro-muriatic acid in 1789.

The Arabs in Cordoba, Spain established a university. It was for some time the most renowned in Europe (1572).

ca. 830

Walafrid Strabo (DE), Abbot of Reichenau, and the oldest medical writer on German soil, describes in a poem (Hortulus) the value of native medicinal plants, and also the method of teaching medicine in monasteries (1677).


A great center of learning and scholarship called Bayt al-Hikma (House of Wisdom) was established at Baghdad. Many important Greek and Latin works were translated here, including seven books of anatomy by Galen (now lost in Greek), and works by Hippocrates and Dioscorides (2646).


Cesare Baronio; Caesar Baronius (IT) reported that Rome experienced an epidemic of suffocative angina (diphtheria) (177).

ca. 860

Hunayn Ibn-Ishaq Al-Ibadi; Johannitius (Arabian) wrote, Ten Treatises on the Eye, the first systematic textbook of ophthalmology (41). Hunayn was one of the most important translators of the great Greek works into Arabic.

Abu Zakariya Yuhanna ibn Masawaih; Ibn Masawaih; Masawaiyh; Mesue; Masuya; Mesue Major; Msuya; Mesue the Elder; Joannes Damascenus (Persian) gave us the first recorded suggestion for filling of a tooth cavity with gold. He also advised against treating constipated patients with a violent purge (2465).


Sabur ibn Sahel (Persian) published a pharmacopeia at Jundi-Shapur in Persia; it was one of the first such works (1344). See, Dioskorides, ca. 64.

ca. 900

The Chinese were using Ma Huang (rich in ephedrine) with properties similar to epinephrine (adrenaline) (338). The drug is derived from plants of the genus Ephedra and is most commonly used to prevent mild or moderate attacks of bronchial asthma. Unlike epinephrine, ephedrine is slow to take effect and of mild potency and long duration. It is a bronchodilator and decongestant.

Nagajoshi Nagai (JP), in 1887, isolated ephedrine as the active ingredient of Ma Haung but found it to be to toxic (1749).

Ko Kuei Chen (CN) and Carl Frederic Schmidt (US) rediscovered ephedrine and described it as an orally active, long-lasting sympathomimetic amine of a structure similar to epinephrine (adrenaline). It induces hypertension (488, 489).

Julius Axelrod (US) discovered that ephedrine is metabolized to yield metabolites that have pressor (increase blood pressure) activity (143). 

Japan was struck again by smallpox (red plague) epidemics, and also by measles (1396).

Abú-bakr Muhammad ibn Zakariya’ Al-razi; Rhazes; Rasis; Razi (Persian) is reported to be the first physician to carefully describe and differentiate between measles and smallpox (red plague) (2030). He discussed stones of the bladder and kidney; diseases in children; coryza (allergy); and was the first to use plaster of paris to form casts in support of broken bones. He studied and described metallic antimony (1648, 1649).

Rhazes (Persian) wrote Al-Hawi (The Comprehensive Book), a twenty-three-volume encyclopedia of Greek, pre-Islamic Arab, Indian, and Chinese medical knowledge. It covered diseases of the skin and joints, and explored the effects of diet and the concept of hygiene (2646).

Ibn Firnas (Arabian) created glass lenses that he used for magnification and to improve vision (2249).

Hospitals as we understand them today were developed under Islam. The first, and most elaborate, was built in the eighth century under Caliph al-Rashid (the caliph of the One Thousand and One Nights) (2452). The medieval Muslim hospital, as it existed in Baghdad, Cairo or Damascus had separate wards for men and women, special wards were devoted to internal diseases, ophthalmic disorders, orthopedic ailments, the mentally ill, and there were isolation wards for contagious cases. Colleges for medical training were attached to these hospitals. The idea of the pharmacy, or apothecary, was born. In Baghdad pharmacists had to pass an exam before they were allowed to produce and prescribe drugs. The exam covered the correct composition of drugs, the proper dosage, and the therapeutic effects. The notion of public health also began with the Arabs— among other things, doctors would visit prisons, to see whether there were any contagious diseases among the convicts that might spread (2646).

The most prominent center of medical studies in the Middle Ages, calling itself Civitas Hippocratia, was founded at Salernum, Italy on the Tyrrhenian Sea (it may have been older because Salernitan physicians were being sought after by royalty as early as 924). By the year 1000 the school had become secular although maintaining its ties with the abbey at Monte Cassino. It is the oldest school having a curriculum prescribed by the state. In 1140 King Ruggiero (Roger II) ordered a state examination to test the proficiency of prospective physicians, and Frederick II in 1240 decreed that before studying medicine, the candidate should have studied logic for at least three years, that he must study medicine for five years, and that, after graduation, he must serve one year as an assistant to an older physician. The decree also set medical fees, required free treatment of the poor, regulated the purity and prices of drugs, and the business relationship between the doctors and the pharmacists.

An anonymous didactic poem, Regimen Sanitatis Salernitanum (The School of Salerno), also called Flos Medicinae Salerni, is the best-known literary work associated with this school. The most popular English version being one translated by John Harington and published in 1607 (695). The Antidotarium, a textbook containing various prescriptions in common use, was one of the schools’ great contributions to the medical sciences. Salernitanus Nicolaus (IT) is credited as its author (1774). It was here that a female professor composed Trotula, the first book on obstetrics written in Western Europe by a Christian author on diseases of women.

The employment of anesthesia by inhalation, and the use of local anesthesia originated with this school. A mixture of opium, hyoscyamus (usually an alcoholic extract of leaves, seeds, and flowers of Hyoscyamus niger or henbane), mandragora, hemlock, blackberries, lettuce, and ivy on a sponge was used for inhalation while a cataplasm (poultice or emollient) of opium, hyoscyamus, and mandragora was used for local anesthesia. Constantine of Carthage (Constantinus Africanus), who was associated with this school, is one of the most important translators of medical works from the original Greek, and from Arabic into Latin (707, 1572, 2218).

Marvin J. Allison (US), Enrique Gerszten (US), A. Julio Martinez (US), David M. Klurfeld (US), and Alejandro Pezzia (PE) discovered that a young female pre-Columbian mummy of the Huari culture in Peru seems to represent one of the earliest cases of collagen disease, with many aspects compatible with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) (64).

Marvin J. Allison (US), Alejandro Pezzia (PE), Ichiro Hasegawa (US), Enrique Gerszten (US), Ronald F. Giffler (US), Daniel Mendoza (US), Harry P. Dalton (US) and Vincent A. Sawicki (US) presented evidence that an individual from the Huari culture in pre-Columbian Peru exhibited an array of ailments at the time of his death (890-950 A.D.). Radiological diagnosis revealed aspiration pneumonia, which was possibly initiated during the course of a systemic salmonellosis such as typhoid fever. His health was further jeopardized by the presence of two helminthic infestations, hookworm and trichinosis (65, 66, 2130).


The Arab ruler Abd-al-Rahman III founded the University of Cordova, in Spain. It contained a library of some 400,000 books.


A bismaristan (hospital) was built in Bagdad on the banks of the River Tigris. The most important Baghdad hospital was the ‘Adudi', named for a local ruler, it was established in 982. The 'Adudi' was reported to have 25 doctors, including oculists, surgeons, and bonesetters (759).

ca. 980

Abu Ali al-Hasan ibn Al-Hasan; Ibn Al-Haitham; Alhazen (IQ-EG) in his Opticae Thesaurus discussed not only optical principles, but described the anatomy of the eye, and how the lens of the eye focuses an image on the retina. He was the first to record that a piece of glass, flat on one side and curved on the other, would magnify small objects (58);Alhazen, 1989 #3532}.

Ali ibn Abbas; Haly Abbas (Arabian) wrote, System of Medicine subtitled Royal Book. In this book, among other things, he describes laryngotomy, catheterization, eczema, scabies, miliaria rubra, miliaria alba, favus, pediculosis, seborrhoeic dermatitis, alopecia areata, lupus vulgaris, leprosy, filariasis, smallpox (red plague), chickenpox, measles, and erysipelas (1572).

ca. 1000

Abu al-Qasim Khalaf ibn 'Abbas al-Zahrawi; Abulcases; Albucasis; Bulcasis; Bulcasim; Bulcari; Alzahawi; Ezzahrawi; Zahravius; Alcarani; Alsarani; Aicaravi; Alcaravius; Alsahrawi (ES-Arabian) wrote Al-Tasrif (The Method), a medical encyclopedia spanning 30 chapters which included sections on surgery, medicine, orthopedics, ophthalmology, pharmacology, nutrition etc.

Perhaps the most importance treatise is the one on surgery. It included many pictures of surgical instruments, most invented by Al-Zahrawi himself, and explanations of their use. Al-Zahrawi was the first medical author to provide illustrations of instruments used in surgery. There are approximately 200 such drawings ranging from a tongue depressor and a tooth extractor to a catheter and an elaborate obstetric device.

In the surgical treatise he discussed cauterization, bloodletting, midwifery/obstetrics, and the treatment of wounds. He described the exposure and division of the temporal artery to relieve certain types of headaches, diversion of urine into the rectum, reduction mammoplasty for excessively large breasts and the extraction of cataracts. He wrote extensively about injuries to bones and joints, even mentioning fractures of the nasal bones and of the vertebrae. In fact 'Kocher's method' for reducing a dislocated shoulder was described in At-Tasrif long before Kocher was born! Al-Zahrawi outlined the use of caustics in surgery, fully described tonsillectomy, tracheotomy and craniotomy- operations he had performed on a dead fetus (Apparently the first mentioned case of advanced extra uterine pregnancy was by Al-Zahrawi. He described a case of a pregnant woman who did not expel the fetus after it had died. A long time afterwards a swelling was formed in the umbilical region from which, when opened, a matter flowed out. The wound did not close after long treatment but after applying strong medication, pieces of bone came out which Al-Zahrawi recognized as fetal bones although he did not know the real essence of the process). He explained how to use a hook to extract a polyp from the nose, how to use a bulb syringe he had invented for giving enemas to children and how to use a metallic bladder syringe and speculum to extract bladder stones.

Al-Zahrawi was the first to describe the so-called "Walcher position" in obstetrics; the first to depict dental arches, tongue depressors and lead catheters and the first to describe clearly the hereditary circumstances surrounding hemophilia. He also described ligaturing of blood vessels long before Ambroise Pare (13, 14, 120).


Cesare Baronio; Caesar Baronius (IT) reported that Rome experienced an epidemic of suffocative angina (diphtheria) (177).

ca. 1010

Ali Ibn Isa Al-Kahhal; Ali Ibn Ali; Jesu Haly (Arabian) in his book on the diseases of the eye speaks of the use of general anesthesia and acknowledges mandragora (a genus of solanaceous plants, Mandragora officinalis, the true or oriental mandrake) and opium as drugs which produce sleep (42). Atropin is the active ingredient of mandragora. 

ca. 1020

Abu Ali el-Hosein ben Abdallah Ibn Sina; Avicenna (Persian) combined the biology of Aristotle, Greek medical lore, and what Islamic physicians had discovered in his Al-Qanun (The Canon) which remained the authority in the west until the sixteenth century. He discussed mineral, animal, and vegetable poisons, rabies (from Sanskrit rabhas, to do violence), venesection (opening a vein for bloodletting), cancer of the breast, hydrocele (collection of water in the tunica vaginalis of the testicle), tumors, skin diseases, labor (mentions the use of forceps), meningitis, chronic nephritis, facial paralysis, pyloric stenosis (obstruction of the pyloric orifice of the stomach), ulcer of the stomach, tic douloureux (a spasmodic facial neuralgia), icterus (jaundice with discoloration of the urine), dilatation and contraction of the iris, the six motor muscles of the eye, the functions of the lachrymal ducts, a treatment for diabetes with actual (although very mild) hypoglycemic properties, infection with the European hookworm (Ancylostoma duodenale), and infection with Guinea worm (Dracunculus medinensis) which he called Medina worm. His recommended treatment included lupin, fenugreek and zedoary seeds. He employed silver medicinally, including the use of silvered pills and silver filings as a blood purifier. He was he first to describe the bluish discoloration of the skin characteristic of excessive use of silver. He also pioneered the study of psychology.

Five hundred years after it was written, The Canon was a required textbook at the University of Vienna (138-140).

Avicenna (Arabic) described oriental sore, called Balkh, in the 10th century (1596). This was Old World leishmaniasis.

The eminent medical historian, William Osler (CA) called Avicenna’s Canon, “the most famous medical book ever written” and “a medical bible for a longer period than any other work.” Osler also referred to Avicenna as, “one of the greatest names in the history of medicine” (1808).


Cedrenus (Byzantine) reports that fatal angina (cynanche) is in the Eastern Empire. An inflammation of the throat accompanied by fever.


The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle reports a high mortality of men and cattle in England due to pestilence.

ca. 1050

“The Ancients said that when a cancer is in a site where total eradication is possible, such as a cancer of the breasts or of the thigh, and in similar parts where complete removal is possible, and especially when in the early stage and small, then surgery was to be tried. But when it is of long standing and large you should leave it alone. For I myself have never been able to cure any such, nor have I seen anyone else succeed before me.” Albucasis (Abul Qasim (13, 664).

Alsaharanious of Arabia, in the 2nd century, taught his students the surgical removal of the prolapsed uterus, when it couldn’t be repositioned in place (239).

Jacopo Berengarious da Capri; Jacobus Berengarius Carpensis; Jacopo Berengario da Capri; Giacomo Berengario da Capri; Jacopo Barigazzi (IT), in 1517 at Bologna, reported that he had performed the first partial vaginal hysterectomy of a gangrenous uterus. He also studied the change of sex life of women after hysterectomy and described the heart valves. ref

Andreas A. Cruce (ES), in 1560, did vaginal hysterectomy. ref

Joannes Schenck (UK), at Grabenberg in the Ukraine, during the 17th century, recorded 26 cases of vaginal hysterectomy (2161).

Οsiander in Getingen, in 1801, performed the first scheduled vaginal hysterectomy. ref

Conrad Langenbeck (DE), in 1813, performed the first programmed vaginal hysterectomy for cancer with removal of entire uterus (2220).

C.L.E. Schroeder (DE), in 1880, presented his method for hysterectomy: he transected the pouch of Douglas and pulled the uterus fundus back, he then transected the vesicouterine fold. The adnexa was ligatured with single suture or in more stages was through the vaginal way (2186).

Harry Reich (US), John DeCaprio (US), and Fran McGlynn (US) performed the first laparoscopic hysterectomy (1998).


The army of the Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV was defeated by disease during his attempt to conquer Rome, probably typhoid fever and dysentery, and perhaps also malaria (the ague) (1396).


Shen Kuo; Shen Gua (CN) devised a geological hypothesis for land formation (geomorphology), based upon findings of inland marine fossils, knowledge of soil erosion, and the deposition of silt. He also proposed a hypothesis of gradual climate change, after observing ancient petrified bamboos that were preserved underground in a dry northern habitat that would not support bamboo growth in his time (1420).


The First Crusade was delayed and made more difficult by disease, in particular by an epidemic, probably of typhoid fever, that struck in Syria in 1098 after the siege of Antioch (1396).


There was a pestilence and murrain (cattle plague) in England.


According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle a destructive pestilence occurs in England.

ca. 1128

Hugh of Saint-Victor (FR), according to Peter Watson, “proposed that secular learning—focused on the sheer reality of the natural world— was a necessary grounding for religious contemplation. ‘Learn everything,’ was his motto, ‘later you will see that nothing is superfluous.’ From this attitude grew the medieval practice of writing summae, encyclopedic treatises aimed at synthesizing all knowledge” (1258, 2646). This way of thinking was a great stimulus to the development of the sciences.

Robert Grosseteste (GB), in 1220-1235, was the first to fully understand Aristotle's vision of the dual path of scientific reasoning: Generalizing from particular observations into a universal law (induction), and then back again from universal laws to prediction of particulars (deduction). Grosseteste called this "resolution and composition". So for example looking at the particulars of the moon, it is possible to arrive at universal laws about nature. And conversely once these universal laws are understood, it is possible to make predictions and observations about other objects besides the moon. Further, Grosseteste said that both paths should be verified through experimentation in order to verify the principles (583).

Saint Thomas Aquinas (IT), in 1265-1274, insisted that there is a natural, underlying order of things, which appears to deny God’s power of miraculous intervention. There is, he said, a ‘natural law,’ which reason can grasp; Aquinas simultaneously Christianized Aristotle, and Aristotleized Christianity. A secular way of thinking was introduced into the world, which would eventually change man’s understanding for all time. Philosophy was no longer a mere handmaiden of theology. Human intelligence and freedom received their reality from God himself. Man could only realize himself by being free to pursue knowledge wherever it led. He should not fear or condemn the search. God had designed everything, and secular knowledge could only reveal this design more closely — and therefore help man to know God more intimately (1717, 2416, 2646). 


An epidemic at Adalia on the coast of Anatolia wiped out soldiers and pilgrims of the Second Crusade and facilitated their defeat by the Turks (1396).

ca. 1150

Abd al-Malik ibn Abi al-Ala Ibn Zuhr; Avenzoar (Arabian) wrote Altersir or Theisir, a treatise on clinical medicine. He discussed: scabies; extraction of cataract; miosis (excessive contraction of the pupil); mydriasis (extreme dilation of the pupil); feeding through a cannula in the throat; tracheotomy; removal of renal calculi (kidney stones); mediastinal (space between the two pleural sacs) abscess; and serous pericarditis (serum-like fluid around the heart) (1304).

Constantinus Africanus (Carthaginian-Norman) in the employ of Robert Guiscard, commander of the Norman armies at the time, was the first important translator of great works from Arabic into Latin (1572). See, ca. 900.

Hildegard von Bingen (DE) wrote Physica (Natural History) and Causae et Cures (Causes and Cures). She was an outstanding herbalist and observer of folk medicine. These are among the first books on a biological or medical topic written by a woman (2576). See, ca. 900.

In Causae et Cures she describes the human embryo as follows: “After the man's semen has fallen into its place so that it must be molded into a human form, from the woman's menstrual blood a fine skin, like a small vessel, will grow around that form and hold and surround it so that it may not be moved or fall, because the coagulated blood collects there so that this form lies in its middle, like a person in the shelter of his house.” She also gives one of the first descriptions of menopause (2577).


In the city of Bologna, Italy a charter was issued for a school of law and medicine (law had been taught there for over a century prior to 1158). Some consider this to be the first University in the modern sense of the word. The students elected their masters and the rector (1572).


The army of Frederick Barbarossa (DE) was nearly destroyed by an epidemic disease after his conquest of Rome in 1167. Whether this was typhus, malaria (the ague), or something else has not been decided (1396).

ca. 1170

Roger son of Frugardi; Roger son of Ruggiero; Rogerius Frugardi; Roger of Palermo; Rogerius Salernitanus (IT) wrote Cyrurgia Rogerii (Roger’s Surgery), the first medieval textbook on surgery, which in various forms dominated the teaching and practice of surgery in Europe for many years. It was re-edited as Roger’s Practica about 1250. The Practica described how to treat fractures of the skull, nasal polyps, hemorrhoids, fractures of the jaw, goiters, and stone in the bladder. It introduced the use of the seton (a strip or skein of silk or linen drawn through a wound in the skin to make an issue) and intestinal anastomoses (performed using a hollow cylinder of elderwood). Goiters, instead of being removed surgically were often treated with an electuary (powdered drug made into a paste) containing among other things ashes of seaweed and sea sponge. One of the most famous variations of the Practica was Roland’s Libellus de Cyrurgia, produced by Roger’s pupil Roland of Parma (658, 1572).


Gerard of Cremona (IT) was sent by Frederick Barbarossa to Toledo, Spain to translate Avicenna’s Canon from Arabic into Latin. He not only translated the Canon but some 70 additional works including Rhazes’s Al Kitabul-l-Mansuri, the surgery of Albucasis, and Arabic versions of Aristotle, Hippocrates, and Galen (1572).


Influenza occurs as an epidemic in England, Germany, and Italy (593).

ca. 1190

Andreas Capellanus; André le Chapelain (FR) wrote that for contraception women drank decoctions of fennel and acorn. Each alone prevented menstrual flow; together they were considered effective against ovulation and conception (451).


A flesh fly, maybe Blaesoxipha lineata (Fallén) was noted as the main parasite of Locusta migratoria L. in China’s Jiangsu Province.


Moses Maimonides; Musa ibn Maimun (Arabian-EG), the Jewish theorist and physician who practiced medicine in Egypt, states that illness curable by diet alone should not otherwise be treated. He makes many dietary recommendations related to various illnesses. Notably Maimonides recommends one ideal light meal for making an asthmatic chest feel better. Chicken soup—chicken or turtle dove with vinegar and lemon juice cooked with mint—ought to be followed by pomegranate juice. Amazingly, he recommends avoiding fatty, rich, coarse foods whose pathogenic fluids after digestion could concentrate in blood vessels, and, not being evacuated, cause their narrowing (1569).

Maimonides gives us a rare glimpse into the daily affairs of a physician in the 12th century. In a letter to his friend Ibn Tibbon he writes, “My duties as physician to the sultan are very heavy. I am obliged to visit him every day, early in the morning. When he or any of his children or any women of his harem are indisposed, I dare not leave Cairo but must spend the greater part of the day in the palace. Often some of the royal officers fall sick and I must treat them. Hence, I go to Cairo early in the day and even if nothing unusual happens, I do not return home until late afternoon. Then I am fatigued and hungry. I find the antechambers filled with people, Jews and gentiles, nobles and commoners, judges and bailiffs, friends and foes that await the time of my return. I dismount from my animal, wash my hands and entreat my patients to bear with me while I partake of some food, my only meal in 24 hours. Then I go forth to attend my patients, write prescriptions and directions for their ailments. Patients go in and out until nightfall, and sometimes, even, until two hours and more in the night. I converse with them and prescribe for them while lying down from sheer fatigue. And when night falls, I am so exhausted I can scarcely speak” (937).

ca. 1200

Aegidius Corboliensis; Gilles de Corbeil (FR) wrote the poem Carmina de Urinarum, which remained the standard text on urine for 500 years (665).

The first description of fascioliasis (liver-fluke infestation) in literature is in the circa 1200 Black Book of Chirk or The Chirk Codex (942).

Jean de Brie (FR), in 1379, made mention of 'liver rot' disease in sheep while preparing a treatise on wool production (651, 652).

John Fitzherbert (GB), Anthony Fitzherbert (GB), and Thomas Berthelet (GB) described what was very likely a liver fluke (871).

Fanensi Gabucinus; Hieronymus Gabucinus (IT) described worms resembling pumpkin seeds in the blood vessels of sheep and goats (951).

Govard (Godefridus) Bidloo (NL) observed worms in the bile ducts of sheep, stags, and calves; noting that he remembered seeing similar worms in the livers of humans (270, 271).


England experiences a serious plague and murrain (cattle plague).


During the Fourth Lateran Council, a papal edict was issued which forbade physicians (most of whom where clergy) from performing surgical procedures, as contact with blood or body fluids was viewed as contaminating to men of the church.


Theodoric Borgognoni; Ugone da Lucca; Hugo de Lucca (IT) introduced the use of spongia somnifera [sleep sponges] for anesthetization of patients for minor surgery. A sponge soaked in a dissolved solution of opium, mandrake, hemlock, mulberry juice, ivy and other substances was held beneath the patients nose to induce unconsciousness. He insisted that the practice of encouraging the development of pus in wounds, handed down from Galen and from Arabic medicine be replaced by a more antiseptic approach, with the wound being cleaned and then sutured to promote healing. Bandages were to be pre-soaked in wine as a form of disinfectant (2406). Note: Borgognoni was significant in stressing the importance of personal experience and observation as opposed to a blind reliance upon the ancient sources. 

Francis Bacon (GB) reported that simple opiates, which are likewise called narcotics and stupefactives, are opium itself, which is the juice of the poppy, the plant and seed of the poppy, henbane, mandragora, hemlock, tobacco, and nightshade (145).


Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II (Sicilian-DE) was the first to deliberately establish a university by royal edict. It was located at Naples. Pope Gregory IX authorized the first papal university in 1229 at Toulouse.


Frederick II of Hohenstaufen, Holy Roman Emperor (Sicilian-DE) decreed ‘that no surgeon be admitted to practice unless he be learned in the anatomy of the human body.’ A law was put in place that provided for the public dissection of the human body ‘at least once in five years,’ at Salerno (2646).

ca. 1240

Frederick II of Hohenstaufen, Holy Roman Emperor (Sicilian-DE) wrote De Arte Venandi cum Avibus [The Art of Hunting with Birds], a treatise on hunting, which is also a serious, scientific account of the habits and structure of birds. He found the air cavities in bones, described the lung, and made observations on flight and migration (932, 933). This work was first printed in 1596.

Gilbertus Anglicus (GB) wrote Compendium Medicinae, a seven volume work in which he attempted to consolidate medical knowledge up to that time (91).


Frederick II of Hohenstaufen, Holy Roman Emperor (Sicilian-DE) issued the Edict of Salerno (sometimes called Constitution of Salerno) which mandated the first legally fixed separation of the occupations of physician and apothecary. Physicians were forbidden to double as pharmacists and the prices of various medicinal remedies were fixed. This became a model for regulation of the practice of pharmacy throughout Europe.

ca. 1246

Ibn Nafis; Ibn al-Nafis; Ibn an-Nafis; Ala’ al-Din Ibn Abi al-Hazm al-Quarashie (Arabian) suggested that the right and left ventricles of the heart are separated by a nonporous ventricular septum and described the lesser circulation (pulmonary circulation) of blood more than two centuries before Miguel Serveto (Michael Servetus) or Colombo (43, 277).

ca. 1249

Roger Bacon (GB) described how curved glass could be used as spectacles to treat farsightedness (150). In his book Perspectiva of 1267 he says, "Great things can be performed by refracted vision. If the letters of a book, or any minute object, be viewed through a lesser segment of a sphere of glass or crystal, whose plane is laid upon them, they will appear far better and larger” (1508).

Saint Albertus Magnus (DE) in De Animalibus distinguished four types of animal reproduction; opened fowl eggs at various intervals of time to trace the development of the embryo from the pulsating red speck of the heart to hatching; described insect mating; identified insect eggs; showed that ants needed their antennae for orientation; and observed the ovarian follicles and trachea of crickets (47).

In De Vegetabilibus Plantis he presented an accurate, detailed and systematic classification of plants from the fungi to the flowering forms. He grouped flowers into three types: bird-form, bell-form, and star-form. He was the first to mention spinach in Western literature, the first to note the influence of light and heat on the growth of trees, and the first to establish that sap (which he knew was carried in vessels) is tasteless in the root and becomes flavored as it ascends. Albertus proposed that existing plant forms are sometimes mutable (48).


Welch physicians were using menygellydon, or “elves’ gloves” or “little folks’ gloves” as an herbal remedy. This is foxglove, which contains digitalis (1214, 1479).


Jordanus Ruffus (DE) was first to recognize and describe equine strangles (coryza contagiosa equorum ) (2069, 2085). It is also called druse or gourme

Jacques de Solleysel (FR) described strangles and noted that it is a disease of horses that has been known for many years (712).

Philippe-Étinne La Fosse (FR) determined experimentally that strangles (distemper) is infectious (1426).

Sebastiano Rivolta (IT) found that micrococci are common in the pus of strangles cases (2045).

Leopoldo Baruchello (IT), in 1886, described the cause of equine strangles (a highly contagious respiratory tract disease of horses and donkeys) to be a micrococus, which he named Bacillus adenitis equi. Using experimental infection of colts he concluded that the disease was the result of a mixed infection of streptococci and staphylococci (193, 194). Note: A vaccine is discussed in the 1908 article. Refs incomplete

Johann Wilhelm Schütz (DE), Gerhard Sand (DK) and Carl Oluf Jensen (DK) were able to reproduce the disease in healthy horses using pure cultures of Streptococcus equi (2187).


The English Parliament passed regulatory enactments, called assizes, prohibiting the adulteration of any staple food that was also subject to price controls. The 1266 statutes prohibited the sale of any corrupted wine or of any meat, fish, bread, or water that was not wholesome for man’s body or that was kept so long that it loseth natural wholesomeness (1895).

ca. 1266

Theodoric Borgognoni; Teodorico de'Borgognoni; Theodoric of Lucca; Theodoric Borgognoni of Cervia (IT) in his book, Cyrurgia [Surgery], pioneered in the use of the aseptic technique—not the “clean” aseptic technique of today, but rather a method based on avoidance of “laudable pus”. He attempted to discover the ideal conditions for good wound healing, and concluded that they comprised control of bleeding, removal of contaminated or necrotic material, avoidance of dead space, and careful application of a wound dressing bathed in wine. Control of bleeding, removal of contaminated or necrotic material, and avoidance of dead space are principles that can also apply in today’s operations. He also argued for primary closure of all wounds when possible and avoiding “laudable pus.”

He advocated the use of narcotic-soaked sponges to put surgical subjects to sleep (325). See, Celsus ca. 30 B.C.E. and Galen, ca. 175.

ca. 1267

“Experimental science has three great prerogatives over other sciences; it verifies conclusions by direct experiment; it discovers truth which they never otherwise would reach; it investigates the course of nature and opens to us a knowledge of the past and of the future.” Roger Bacon (149)

ca. 1270

Arnaldus de Villanova; Arnald of Villanova (ES) an alchemist who taught at the medical school in Montpellier, France reported that when wood is burned under conditions of poor ventilation the fumes released are poisonous. This amounts to a discovery of carbon monoxide. He practiced alcohol distillation and systematically used alcohol to prepare tinctures for the treatment of certain diseases. He refers to the use of burnt sea sponge as a treatment of simple goiter (its iodine content may have been the reason for its success) (720).

Giuseppe Flajani (IT), Antonio Giuseppe Testa (IT), Caleb Hillier Parry (GB), Robert James Graves (GB), and Karl Adolph von Basedow (DE) described a disorder characterized by a triad of hyperthyroidism, goiter, and exophthalmos (bulging eyeballs). The symptoms include cardiac arrhythmias, increased pulse rate, weight loss in the presence of increased appetite, intolerance to heat, elevated basal metabolism rate, profuse sweating, apprehension, weakness, elevated protein-bound iodine level, tremor, diarrhea, vomiting, eyelid retraction, and stare. Goiters are more prevalent in fresh water and lake countries and less so on the seacoast, due to the lack of iodine in fresh water. It is variously called Flajani’s disease, Parry’s disease, Graves’ disease, Basedow’s disease, or Graves-Basedow disease (874, 1041, 1853, 1854, 2401, 2574). Note: now called exophthalmic goiter.

Jean-Francois Coindet (CH), who previously used burnt sponge and seaweed to successfully treat goiter (goitre), prescribed iodine as a cure for goiter (532). Proper dosage was difficult and some patients were injured.

Jean Baptiste Joseph Dieudonné Boussingault (FR) advised the government of Columbia, South America that for the treatment of goiter they make available to the world naturally iodized salt, which they possessed. He knew the value of this salt because a young physician —Francois Désiré Roulin (FR) — collected a sample of the Columbian salt and sent it to him for analysis (135, 334, 335, 1851, 2336).

Karl Adolph von Basedow (DE) gave this description of exophthalmic goiter (hyperthyroidism). “Mrs. G. [the first of three cases described] lost weight, suffered from edema of the legs, general emaciation, amenorrhoea, palpitation of the heart…shortness of breath, and a sense of depression about the chest. There was a noticeable protrusion of the eyeballs, which were otherwise healthy and functioned completely, although she slept with open eyes. She had a frightened look and was known in our whole town as a crazy woman” (2574). Basedow’s disease = hyperthyroidism.

Paul Julius Mobius (DE), in 1887, suggested a hyperfunction of the thyroid gland in exophthalmic goiter (1688).

Julius Wagner-Jauregg (AT) had become convinced that the regular intake of small amounts of iodine was prophylactic against cretinism, and proposed that iodized salt be added obligatory to salt sold in areas in which goiter was endemic (1326).

Eugen Baumann (DE) discovered that the thyroid gland is rich in an organic form of iodine (he called it iodothyrin). Before this, iodine was not known to occur naturally in animal tissue. The thyroid is unique for being so much richer in iodine than other tissues. Baumann also reported that persons inhabiting coastal areas contain more thyroid iodine than persons living further inland (204, 205). See, Edward Calvin Kendall, 1914.

Robert Grieve Hutchison (GB) isolated the globulin that was later named thyroglobulin (1290).

Adolf Oswald (DE) clearly demonstrated that the iodine of the thyroid is firmly bound to a globulin-like protein and introduced the term thyroglobulin (1809-1811).

David Marine (US) and W.W. Williams (US) studied the histology of the thyroid gland in relation to its iodine content. They found that a fall in iodine content preceded any cellular changes with a falling iodine content eventually leading to hyperplasia and hyperactivity but not hyperfunction (1608, 1609).

Heinrich Hunziker-Schild (CH) was one of the first to realize the connection between iodine-poor diets and goiter (1284).

Edward Calvin Kendall (US) isolated, crystallized, and named the hormone thyroxine from thyroid gland tissue (1359-1362). Thyroxine was first called thyroxin (at the suggestion of Kendall’s assistant, Arnold E. Osterberg). The ‘e’ was added when it was realized that it is an amino acid with an amine group.

David Marine (US) and Oliver P. Kimball (US) demonstrated that the addition of iodide to a water supply in areas where simple goiter was common would prevent and cure the disease. Their work led to the common use of iodized salt (1607).

David C. Rayner (GB) and Brian R. Champion (GB) reported that exophthalmic goiter, or Graves’ disease, is not the result of dietary iodine levels. It is primarily an autoimmune disorder, resulting in abnormal metabolism (1992).

Ismail Ibn Hasan Jurjani (Persian) described this condition over 800 years earlier (1343).


William of Saliceto; Guglielmo da Saliceto; Guilelmus de Saliceto (IT) wrote Cyrurgia, a highly respected book on surgery (607). He recorded his thoughts on urine formation and described renal dropsy (edema) in his book, In Scientia Medicinali (1571). His descriptions of the human anatomy strongly suggest that he practiced dissection even though many in the church were opposed.

William of Saliceto; Guglielmo da Saliceto; Guilelmus de Saliceto (IT) was perhaps the first to suggest that voluntary movements originate in the “brain”, whereas “natural and necessary” movements originate in the cerebellum (990). See, Herophilus of Alexandria; Herophilos of Chalcedon; Herofilos of Chalkedon, 300 B.C.E.

Raymundus Lullius; Raimondus Lullius (ES) allegedly discovered diethyl ether which was named oleum dulcivitrioli (sweet vitriol oil). Its description is not found in any of his extant works.

Valerius Cordus (DE), in 1540, was one of the first to prepare diethyl ether (sweet vitriol oil). He did this by heating alcohol with sulfuric acid (1463).

Theophrastus Phillippus Aureolus Bombastus von Hohenheim; Paracelsus (CH), ca. 1540, sweetened the feed of fowl with oleum dulcivitrioli (sweet oil of vitriol) (ether) and discovered that the inhalation of the vapor could induce sleep in chickens without causing any harm. However, its potential as an anesthetic in humans was not realized for another 200 years (1976).

Andreas Libavius; Andreas Libau (DE), in his Alchemia, describes Paracelsus’ method of preparing analeptic spirit of vitriol (ether) by adding alcohol to the distillate of vitriol (1499). This book is the first systematic chemistry textbook.

Johann Sigismund August Frobenius (DE) and Cromwell Mortimer (NL) changed the name oleum dulcivitrioli (sweet oil of vitriol) to spiritus vini aethereus (spirit of heaven) (941).

Marco Polo (IT) reported that some people wear lenses before their eyes in China (1928).

ca. 1280

Pietro d'Abano; Petrus De Apono; Petrus Aponensis; Peter of Abano (IT) proposed that the brain was the source of the nerves, and the heart was the source of the blood vessels (636).


Lanfranc de Milan (IT) wrote on a system of surgery in which he was the first to describe concussion of the brain. He advocated shaving the head prior to skull surgery (696). 


England experienced an epidemic of flux (probably dysentery).

ca. 1300 

The first synthetic dye, orcein, called French purple, was produced by exposing orchella extract to air oxidation in the presence of ammonia formed during the fermentation of urine by a lichen. The lichen was identified as Rocella (511).

The first important responses to the plague (Yersinia pestis) took extreme and ugly forms. In Germany and some adjacent parts of Europe companies of flagellants aimed at carrying out God’s wrath beat each other bloody and attacked Jews, who were commonly accused of spreading the pestilence. The flagellants disdained all established authorities of church and state and, if accounts are to be believed, their rituals were well nigh suicidal for the participants (2759).

Guy de Chauliac; Guidon de Chauliae (FR) revived the use of compression of the nerve trunk as an anesthetic in the 1300s, and Ambroise Paré (FR) did the same in 1542. This technique had been known in antiquity (2439). 

Valverdi (IT), in 1600, produced regional anesthesia by compression of nerves and blood vessels supplying the operative area (568). 

The halving of China’s population between 1200 and 1393 is better explained by plague (Yersinia pestis) than by Mongol barbarity (656).


The first known court ordered post-mortem was performed on Azzolino, a nobleman of Bologna, Italy, suspected of having been poisoned (1572).


Bernard de Gordon (FR) wrote Lilium Medicinae (Lily of Medicine) in which he described the treatment of hernia with a truss and made the first mention in medical literature of spectacles for the eyes. Simple lenses had been in use for many years (667).


Jehan Yperman (Flemish) gave the first exact description of unilateral and bilateral cleft lip surgery (2616, 2750).


John de Trokelowe (GB) reported an epidemic throat infection called pestis gutturosa in England (2444).


Mondino; Remondino de Luzzi (IT), who taught at the medical school in Bologna, wrote Anothomia, the first modern textbook devoted entirely to human anatomy. He is credited with coining the word mesentery and making the first public anatomical demonstration upon the human body, yet this distinction may belong to Herophilus of Alexandria (GR), 300 B.C.E. (724).


Influenza is epidemic in Italy and France (593). The French referred to influenza as "the grippe."

ca. 1330

William of Ockham; William of Occam (GB) laid down the rule that: ” Non sunt multiplicanda entia praeter necessitatem [Entities must not needlessly be multiplied.]” This has been interpreted in modern times to mean that of two theories equally fitting all observed facts, that theory requiring the fewer assumptions is to be accepted as more nearly valid. The rule, now called Ockham’s razor, is of vital importance in the philosophy of science (1786). Ockham and Duns Scotus (GB) were very important to the rebirth of scientific inquiry because they were “insistent upon the separation of theology from practical truth—a separation which manifestly released scientific inquiry from dogmatic control” (2668).

ca. 1340 

Before the plague (Yersinia pestis) called the Black Death reached the Crimea in 1346 and began its devastating career in Mediterranean lands, Uzbek villages of the western steppe had been completely emptied by the disease (758). It is believed to have originated in Eastern Asia, passed through India to Asia Minor, Arabia, Egypt, Northern Africa, and directly to Europe by the Black Sea. In Europe the epidemic began in 1346, and spread first of all in the maritime cities of Italy and Sicily, in 1347 it appeared in Constantinople, Cyprus, Greece, Malta, Sardinia and Corsica, and towards the end of the year, at Marseilles; in 1348 in Spain, Southern France, Paris, the Netherlands, Italy, Southern England and London, Schleswig-Holstein and Norway, and in December, in Dalmatia and Jutland; in 1349 in the Austrian Alpine countries, Vienna, and Poland; in 1350 in Russia, where in 1353 the last traces disappeared on the shores of the Black Sea. The social upheaval that ensued is generally regarded as the end of the Middle Ages (2218). 

ca. 1350

John of Arderne (GB) was an accomplished surgeon who was so expensive that he served mostly the nobility, wealthy landowners, and the higher clergy. He taught that wounds should heal without suppuration; that irritating solutions should not be used on wounds; and that dressings should be changed as infrequently as possible. His operation for fistula in ano, dividing the fistula from end to end was visionary (115).


Giovanni Boccaccio (IT), in the Preface to Ladies in his Decameron discusses the plague (Yersinia pestis) of 1348. He says, “At the onset of the disease both men and women were afflicted by a sort of swelling in the groin or under the armpits which sometimes attained the size of a common apple or egg. Some of these swellings were larger and some smaller, and all were commonly called boils…. Afterwards, the manifestation of the disease changed into black or livid spots on the arms, thighs and the whole person…. Like the boils, which had been and continued to be a certain indication of coming death, these blotches had the same meaning for everyone on whom they appeared.” The following is an excerpt from The First Day of the Decameron, “ And this pestilence was a farre greater power or violence; for not only healthful persons speaking to the sick, coming to see them, or ayring clothes in kindness to comfort them was an occasion of ensuing death; but touching their garments, or any foode whereon the sick person feed, or anything else used in the service, seemed to transfer the disease from the sicke to the sound, in very rare and miraculous manner” (300, 301).


Plague is epidemic in England.


Guy de Chauliac; Guidon de Chauliae (FR), greatest surgeon of the Middle Ages and physician to the popes at Avignon, wrote the Chyrurgia Magna in which he expressed his belief in laudable pus and the conventional theory of coction and expulsion of irritant humors through suppuration in the healing of wounds. He described the abscesses associated with phlegmon, pustules, gangrene and anthrax as hot. These represent some of today’s acute inflammatory abscesses.

Guy lived through two visitations of the plague (Yersinia pestis) while he was physician to the popes in Avignon, caught the disease himself and left a good description of it. He also wrote an excellent account of leprosy, at the time endemic through all of Europe (1525). Note: Laudable means good or healthy. Coction refers to the notion that heat caused bad humors to cook up and be expelled by suppuration, i.e., the formation of pus. Phlegmon is inflammation of the connective tissues. Guy introduced the treatment of broken limbs by suspension in a cradle—the method of making traction to prevent deformity by shortening of the member—a method still in use. He was one of the first physicians to advocate the use of glasses in certain eye disorders and the first to mention compression therapy for varicose veins. His Cyrurgia Magna, completed in 1363, was the surgical authority until the eighteenth century (657-663, 2631).


Ida MacAlpine (DE-GB), Richard Alfred Hunter (DE-GB), John C.G. Röhl (GB), Martin Warren (GB), and David Hunt (GB) presented strong circumstantial evidence that porphyria, possibly variegate porphyria, was present in the Royal Houses of Stuart and Hanover in the United Kingdom (1553, 2055).


Venice excludes plague-ridden ships from its harbor.


 “If there is any doubt as to whether a person is or is not dead, apply lightly roasted onion to his nostrils, and if he is alive, he will immediately scratch his nose.” Johannes de Mirfield (GB) (50)


Florence, Italy experiences an epidemic of influenza (593).

ca. 1390

Godfrey Chaucer (GB) describes an English physician of the late 14th century in the General Prologue to his Canterbury Tales.

“With us there was a doctor of physic;

With us ther was a Doctour of Phisik;

In all this world was none like him to pick

In al this world ne was ther noon hym lik,

For talk of medicine and surgery;

To speke of phisik and of surgerye;

For he was grounded in astronomy.

For he was grounded in astronomye.

He often kept a patient from the pall

He kepte his pacient a ful greet deel

By horoscopes and magic natural.

In houres, by his magyk natureel.

Well could he tell the fortune ascendent

Wel koude he fortunen the ascendent

Within the houses for his sick patient.

Of hisc ymages for his pacient.

He knew the cause of every malady,

He knew the cause of everich maladye,

Were it of hot or cold, of moist or dry,

Were it of hoot or coold, or moyste, or drye,

And where engendered, and of what humour;

And where they engendred, and of what humour.

He was a very good practitioner.

He was a verray parfit praktisour;

The cause being known, down to the deepest root, 

The cause yknowe, and of his harm the roote,

Anon he gave to the sick man his boot.

Anon he yaf the sike man his boote.

Ready he was, with his apothecaries,

Ful redy hadde he hise apothecaries

To send him drugs and all electuaries;

To sende him drogges and his letuaries,

By mutual aid much gold they'd always won-

For ech of hem made oother for to wynne,

Their friendship was a thing not new begun.

Hir frendshipe nas nat newe to bigynne.

Well read was he in Esculapius,

Wel knew he the olde Esculapius,

And Deiscorides, and in Rufus,

And Deyscorides and eek Rufus,

Hippocrates, and Hali, and Galen,

Olde Ypocras, Haly, and Galyen,

Serapion, Rhazes, and Avicen,

Serapioun, Razis, and Avycen,

Averrhoes, Gilbert, and Constantine,

Averrois, Damascien, and Constantyn,

Bernard and Gatisden, and John Damascene.

Bernard, and Gatesden, and Gilbertyn.

In diet he was measured as could be,

Of his diete mesurable was he,

Including naught of superfluity,

For it was of no superfluitee,

But nourishing and easy. It's no libel

But of greet norissyng, and digestible.

To say he read but little in the Bible.

His studie was but litel on the Bible.

In blue and scarlet he went clad, withal,

In sangwyn and in pers he clad was al,

Lined with a taffeta and with sendal;

Lyned with taffata and with sendal-

And yet he was right chary of expense;

And yet he was but esy of dispence;

He kept the gold he gained from pestilence.

He kepte that he wan in pestilence.

For gold in physic is a fine cordial,

For gold in phisik is a cordial,

And therefore loved he gold exceeding all.

Therfore he lovede gold in special” (486).


Charles Frederick Boulduan (US) and Nils William Boulduan (US) report that Venice, Italy implemented a quarantine (quadraginta = forty days) against the Black Death. The first quarantine station was founded on the small island of Santa Maria di Nazareth adjoining the city (332).


Influenza was epidemic in Paris, France (593).


Influenza was epidemic in Paris, France and Italy (593).


Influenza was epidemic in Paris, France (593).


Jeanne la Pucelle; Joan the Maid; Joan of Arc (FR) was burned at the stake. If her "story were not so extraordinarily beautiful and terrible, questions concerning her mental health would have attracted little attention.

Had she lived today rather than over six hundred years ago, it is not likely that any physician would seriously consider that her voices and visions were those of angels or saints. Instead, she would be given a diagnosis of delusional disorder, even though the voices and visions, and the deeds they inspired, are why, for many, the maid is not dead, but sleepeth" (1561).


Nikolaus Krebs of Cues; Nicholas of Cusa; Nicholas Cusa; Nikolas von Cusa; Nicolaus Cusanus (DE) claimed that the Earth moved round the Sun. He also claimed that the stars were other suns and that space was infinite. He also believed that the stars had other inhabited worlds orbiting them. He was one of the first scholars who advocated the use of measurements for the determination of pulse, respiration and urinary excretion. He used concave lens spectacles to treat nearsightedness and suggested that plants grow by assimilation of water (1784, 1785).


Giannozzo Manetti (IT) recounts that at the court of Pope Nicholas V in Dijon, syphilis (le gros mal) was mentioned in open court (970, 1591).


Paolo Bagellardo (IT), in 1472, wrote the first printed work on diseases of children. It includes chapters on many common infections, including tinea capitis, otorrhea, ear abscess, cough, rheumatism and diarrhea (152).


Konrad von Megenberg (DE) wrote Buch der Natur (The Book of Nature), the earliest printed work in which woodcuts representing plants and animals were used to illustrate the text. This work gives a survey of all that was known of natural history at that time and is, besides, the first natural history in the German language (2604). This work was first printed in 1475.


Gulielmus de Saliceto; Gulielmus de Salicetti; Guglielmo Salicetti of Piacenza; William of Salicet (IT) described kidney disease as follows: “The signs of hardness in the kidneys are that the quantity of the urine is diminished, that there is heaviness of the kidneys, and of the spine with some pain: and the belly begins to swell up after a time and dropsy is produced the second day” (708).


Plague is epidemic in London.


Richard III, King of England, is known to have presented an allergic reaction, exhibiting an immediate cutaneous reaction following the ingestion of strawberries. According to Thomas More, King Richard III used his allergy to strawberries to good effect in arranging the judicial murder of Lord William Hastings. The King surreptitiously ate some strawberries just prior to giving an audience to Hastings and promptly developed acute urticaria. He then accused Hastings of putting a curse on him, an action that demanded the head of Hastings on a plate (1709).


Pope Innocent VIII authorizes burning of witches in the bull entitled Summis desiderantes.


Sweating-sickness appears in England.


Sweating-sickness is epidemic in England.

Heinrich Institoris (DE) and Jakob Sprenger (DE), in their 1486 Treatise About Workers of Harmful Magic, may have been the first to give a written description of an individual with Tourette’s syndrome when they described a priest with both motor and phonetic tics (1311).

Jean-Marc-Gaspard Itard (FR) described the clinical condition that would later be called Gilles de la Tourette syndrome (1316).

Georges Albert Édouard Brutus Gilles de la Tourette (FR) described a syndrome which usually begins at the age of 7 to 10 years, is characterized by echolalia (the automatic repetition by lunatics of what is said to them; a sign of schizophrenia), pallilalia (repeating the sentences of others) and coprolalia (the compulsory saying of dirty words), a want for touch, stuttering, a lack of muscular coordination with involuntary and purposeless movements, which may consist of mild facial spasms and blinking with the eyes, and/or violent tics in eyes, head, arms, and legs, or other parts of the body. Often there is also echopraxia (involuntary mimicking of the movements of others), incoherent grunts and barks, which may represent suppressed obscenities (995, 996). This is Gilles de la Tourette syndrome.

ca. 1490

Leonardo da Vinci (IT) dissected at least 30 male and female bodies of various ages to aid in his production of more than 750 anatomical sketches of the human body, including skeleton, muscles, heart, lungs, nerves, blood vessels, viscera, and brain. The accuracy of these drawing was not to be equaled until the time of Sömmerring and Scarpa (481).

He injected ventricles with molten wax to determine their shape, sectioned the eyeball after boiling it in egg white, employed cross sections to study the anatomy of the legs, and produced a remarkably accurate illustration of the fetus in utero. He observed the correct inclination of the pelvis, discovered the frontal and maxillary sinuses and the moderator band of the heart, described in detail the structure and function of the heart valves, and drew precise pictures of the coronary arteries and their course (1572).

He wrote that fossils were once-living organisms that had been buried at a time before the mountains were raised: "it must be presumed that in those places there were sea coasts, where all the shells were thrown up, broken, and divided. The stratified stones of the mountains are all layers of clay, deposited one above the other by the various floods of the rivers . . . In every concavity at the summit of the mountains we shall always find the divisions of strata in the rocks." Leonardo appears to have grasped the law of superposition, which would be articulated fully by the Danish scientist Nicolaus Steno in 1669: in any sequence of sedimentary rocks, the oldest rocks are those at the base. He also appears to have noticed that distinct layers of rocks and fossils could be traced over long distances, and that these layers were formed at different times: " . . . the shells in Lombardy are at four levels, and thus it is everywhere, having been made at various times (609)."


Typus manifested itself as a notable destroyer of European armies. Soldiers who had been fighting in Cyprus brought it to Spain (1646).

Plague is common in Central Europe.


Once contact with Europeans had been established, Amerindian populations of Mexico and Peru became the victims, on a mass scale, of the common childhood diseases of Europe and Africa (2757).

Prior to this date natives of Brazil had been using the ipecac root to treat dysentery (1867).

Ruy Diaz de Isla (ES), Gonzalo Fernandez de Oviedo (ES) and Bartolomé de Las Casas (ES) wrote books which suggested that syphilis appeared in Western Europe in the late 15th century, having been brought from American by the crew of Columbus (673, 685, 702). Convincing proof of the origin of syphilis is lacking. In addition to syphilis the disease has been called; the disease of the Island of Hispaniola, the disease of Naples, the Italians called it the Spanish or French Disease Morbus gallicus, the French called it the Italian disease, the Russians called it the Polish disease, and the Arabs called it the disease of the Christians.

Smallpox (red plague), which had existed previously in Europe, also got its modern name at this time, to distinguish it from syphilis, which was known as the great pox (1396).

Pope Innocent VIII, in Rome, had an apoplectic stroke; became weak and sank into a coma. The harrowing story was told that, at the suggestion of a Jewish physician, the blood of three boys was infused into the dying pontiff's veins. They were ten years old, and had been promised a ducat each. All three died. The Pope did not benefit and died by the end of that year (1305). This is the first recorded attempt at a human-to-human blood transfusion.

Andreas Libavius (DE) was among the first to advocate blood transfusion, though he is not known to have actually attempted to perform a transfusion. “Let there be a young man, robust, full of spirituous blood, and also an old man, thin, emaciated, his strength exhausted, hardly able to retain his soul. Let the performer of the operation have two silver tubes fitting into each other. Let him open the artery of the young man, and put it into one of the tubes, fastening it in. Let him immediately after open the artery of the old man, and put the female tube into it, and then the two tubes being joined together, the hot and spirituous blood of the young man will pour into the old one as it were from a fountain of life, and all of his weakness will be dispelled” (1500, 1588).

Francis Potter (GB), in 1650, transfused blood from sheep to sheep. This possibly represents the first blood transfusion in history (1921).

Robert Boyle (GB) also carried out non-human blood transfusions in animals (348).

Richard Lower (GB) and Edmund King (GB), at the suggestion of Christopher Wren (GB), performed some of the first blood transfusions from one animal to another— keeping dogs alive by transfusion of arterial blood from one dog to venous blood of another. Lower later repeated this feat with sheep. In 1667, Lower reported successful blood transfusion from lamb to a man who Arthur Coga, described as an ‘eccentric scholar’ (1535, 1536, 1539, 1540).

Edmund King (GB) determined that a vein-to-vein transfusion was the safest (1379).

Samuel Pepys (GB) in his diary entry of 14 November 1666 states, "Dr. Croone told me that at the meeting of Gresham College tonight, which it seems they now have every Wednesday, there was a pretty experiment of the blood of one dog let out till he died, into the body of another on one side, while all his own ran out on the other side. The first died upon the place, and the other very well and likely to do well"(1872).

Jean-Baptiste Denis (Denys) (FR), assisted by Paul Emmerez (FR), is credited with the first transfusion of animal blood into a human subject. They gave approximately 12 ounces of lamb’s blood to a young man “possessed of an incredible stupidity” on June 15, 1667. This patient and a 45-year-old man who received the second transfusion of sheep’s blood are both described in the 1668 paper; both survived without ill effects (730, 731, 2147).

Jean-Baptiste Denis (Denys) (FR) may have been the first to describe, what we now know as a transfusion reaction. He observed this in one of his patients, who manifested classical signs of a hemolytic (destruction of red cells) reaction (730).

James Blundell (GB), in 1819, performed the first successful transfusion of blood from one human to another. It was in a patient treated for post-partum hemorrhage. Using the patient's husband as a donor, he extracted approximately four ounces of blood from the husband's arm and, using a syringe, successfully transfused the wife. Between 1825 and 1830, he performed 10 transfusions, five of which proved beneficial to his patients, and published these results. He also devised various instruments for performing transfusions and proposed rational indications (298, 299).

Samuel Armstrong Lane (GB), aided by consultant James Blundell (GB), performed the first successful whole blood transfusion to treat hemophilia (1371).

Thomas Chalmer Addis (GB) transfused "about 300cc of freshly drawn human phosphated blood" to a patient with hemophilia whose plasma clotting time was thereby shortened from 245 to 24 minutes (normal is 13 minutes). It was 30 minutes two days later, 32 at four days, 55 at eight days, and 200 at 25 days. Addis concluded controversially but correctly that the hemophilic defect lay in the plasma, but wrongly that hemophilic prothrombin abnormally resisted conversion to thrombin; however, prothrombin was still a hypothetical concept in 1910. This experiment took place in 1910 but was not reported until 1916 (31).

Nicolò Leoniceno (IT), philosopher, mathematician, linguist, writer, and professor of medicine authored Indications of Errors in Pliny and in Several other Authors Who Have Written on Medicinal Simples. He was a powerful champion of plain truth and common sense against the supposedly infallible authority of books. He devoted himself to the betterment of botany, the materia medica, and knowledge of every kind (1491). The plant genus Leonicena was dedicated to him in 1777 (2197).


Alessandro Benedetti (IT), professor of anatomy at Padua, accurately described the plague and syphilis (233).

Hartmann Schedel (DE) reported an outbreak of diphtheria in Nuremberg Germany (2146).

Smallpox (red plague) is reported in Germany.


Conradus Schellig (DE) wrote an early treatise on syphilis (2160).


Syphilis spreads in Europe.


Joseph Grünpeck (DE) clearly described mixed infections of syphilis and gonorrhea (1059).


Nicolò Leoniceno (IT) authored one of the earliest tracts on syphilis (1490).


Plague (Yersinia pestis) struck London, causing thousands of deaths, the first of a number of outbreaks in that city (1396).


Leonardo da Vinci (IT) stated, “No animal can live in an atmosphere where a flame does not burn” (609).

Robert Boyle (GB) was to later confirm this experimentally. Boyle made the analogy between fire and life, both being dependent on an essential anonymous element in the atmosphere (345, 346, 351).

Antonio Benivieni (IT) practiced medicine in Florence from ca. 1460-1502. His brother posthumously published his collection of medical cases as De Abditis Nonnullis ac Mirandis Morborum et Sanationum Causis [The Hidden Causes of Disease], the first book on pathological anatomy. It is the first published account of medical case histories, some 160, and includes many autopsies. Benivieni was the first physician on record to ask permission of relatives for post-mortem examination for the purpose of discovering the exact cause of death. He describes ulceration of the vagina; a fetus which is syphilitic; gall stones; carcinoma of the stomach; fibrinous pericarditis; syphilitic periostitis; and vesical calculus (stone in the bladder) (235, 236).

Perhaps the first written record we have of a mother and baby surviving a Caesarean section comes from Switzerland in 1500 when Jacob Nufer, a sow gelder, performed the operation on his wife. After several days in labor and help from thirteen midwives, the woman was unable to deliver her baby. Her desperate husband eventually gained permission from the local authorities to attempt a Caesarean. The mother lived and subsequently gave birth normally to five children, including twins. The Caesarean baby lived to be 77 years old. Since this story was not recorded until 82 years later historians question its accuracy.

"Tell thee, Macduff was from his mother's womb

untimely ripp'd." William Shakespeare (2241). 

A woman conducted the first recorded successful Caesarean in the British Empire. Sometime between 1815 and 1821, James Miranda Stuart Barry performed the operation while masquerading as a man and serving as a physician to the British army in South Africa.

While Barry applied Western surgical techniques, nineteenth-century travelers in Africa reported instances of indigenous people successfully carrying out the procedure with their own medical practices. In 1879, for example, one British traveler, R.W. Felkin, witnessed Caesarean section performed by Ugandans. The healer used banana wine to semi-intoxicate the woman and to cleanse his hands and her abdomen prior to surgery. He used a midline incision and applied cautery to minimize hemorrhaging. He massaged the uterus to make it contract but did not suture it; the abdominal wound was pinned with iron needles and dressed with a paste prepared from roots. The patient recovered well, and Felkin concluded that this technique was well developed and had clearly been employed for a long time. Similar reports come from Rwanda, where botanical preparations were also used to anesthetize the patient and promote wound healing.

Numerous references to Caesarean section appear in ancient Hindu, Egyptian, Grecian, Roman, and other European folklore. Ancient Chinese etchings depict the procedure on apparently living women. The Mischnagoth and Talmud prohibited primogeniture when twins were born by Caesarean section and waived the purification rituals for women delivered by surgery. Yet, the early history of Caesarean section remains shrouded in myth and is of dubious accuracy. Even the origin of Caesarean has apparently been distorted over time. The surgical birth of Julius Caesar may be the origin of this myth, however this seems unlikely since his mother Aurelia is reputed to have lived to hear of her son's invasion of Britain. At that time the procedure was performed only when the mother was dead or dying, as an attempt to save the child for a state wishing to increase its population. Caesarean section most likely derives from the Roman legal code. This law had its origins as the lex Regia but was corrupted into the lex Caesare. Roman law under Julius Caesar decreed that all women who were fated to die at childbirth must be cut open; hence, cesarean. Other possible Latin origins include the verb caedare, meaning to cut, and the term caesones that was applied to infants born by post-mortem operations. Ultimately, though, we cannot be sure of where or when the term Caesarean was derived. Until the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the procedure was known as Caesarean operation. This began to change following the publication in 1598 of Jacques Guillimeau's book on midwifery in which he introduced the term section. Increasingly thereafter section replaced operation (2237).

Max Sänger (DE) introduced a major turning point in the development of the caesarean section in 1882, when he introduced the practice of sutural closure of the uterus following Caesarean section operations (2118).

Alfred Jacobus Dührssen (DE) introduced a new variation of the caesarean section in which the surgery was performed via the vaginal canal (789).


Europe experienced an epidemic of Morbus Hungaricus, which was most likely epidemic typhus.


The first hospital in the Americas was established at Santo Domingo in what is now the Dominican Republic (1572).

Leonardo da Vinci (IT) started his painting of Madonna Lisa Maria de Gherardini (Mona Lisa). A careful clinical examination of the famous painting reveals a yellow irregular leather-like spot at the inner end of the left upper eyelid and a soft bumpy well-defined swelling of the dorsum of the right hand beneath the index finger about 3 cm long. This is probably the first recorded case of familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) (1806). She died at the age of 37 from unknown causes.

Portrait of an Elderly Lady painted in 1633 by Frans Hals shows the classic lesions of xanthomas on the dorsum of the hand of a 60-year old lady.

ca. 1505

“There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things.” Niccoló Machiavelli (1469–1527) (1556)


Christopher Columbus; Cristóbal Colon (nationality unknown) died having suffered from progressive reactive arthritis (1561).


Leonardo da Vinci (IT), from autopsy, describes what we today call atherosclerosis as follows: “Veins which by the thickening of their tunics in the old restrict the passage of the blood, and by this lack of nourishment destroy their life without any fever, the old coming to fail little by little in slow death” (609, 1354).  

1507 and 1518

Two epidemics of smallpox (red plague) killed from a third to more than half of the native populations of Cuba, Haiti, and Puerto Rico (1396).

It is very likely that either Calusa (native Americans) merchants based in Southern Florida or Maya merchants spread the small pox microbes as they made stops along the Gulf Coast of Norh America. When the first Spanish explorers arrived on the mainland of the Southeastern United States in 1513, a major plague had already depopulated many of the native provinces along the Gulf Coast. In particular, Mobile Bay and Pensacola Bay were devastated.

Throughout the Southern Highlands, final town occupation dates typically span from 1500 AD – 1585 AD. There is a reason. The primary cause of the continuing debate over the history of the Americas prior to European colonization is a disease holocaust that wiped out at least 90% or more of its indigenous peoples during the immediate years when the Western Hemisphere was first being colonized.


Plague reported in England.

Sweating-sickness reported in England.


Beginning in Sicily an influenza pandemic swept Europe (593, 2375).


Syphilis struck Japan for the first time, and was attributed to Chinese traders coming to Nagasaki (1396).


Plague is in England.


Giovanni da Vigo (IT) related in his book La Practica et Cirurgia that he treated syphilis with mercurial inunctions. He recommended that carious portions of teeth be “completely removed with borer, file and scraper” and “then for preservation of the tooth fill the cavity with gold leaf” (608). See, Abu Zakerijja Jahja ben Maseweih (Arabian), ca. 860.

Eucharius Rösslin; Eucharius Roessslin; Eucharius Rhodion (DE) wrote, Der Swangern Frawen und Heb Amme Roszgarte [The Rose Garden of Pregnant Women and Midwives]. It represents the first printed monograph on obstetrics and was so popular it went through 100 editions (2067, 2068). Thomas Raynalde (GB) improved Rösslin’s book considerably and published his English version entitled The Byrth of Mankind (1991).


Peter Martyr (GB) in a letter to Ludovico Mendoza says that the King's (Henry VIII) physicians fear that he may have the smallpox (red plague) present in England at the time (578, 1620).


Pietro Martire d’Anghiera (IT) described the arrow poison (curare) used by South American Indians (604). Two plants from the Amazon basin produce curare, Strychnos guianensis called pot curare and Chrondodendron tomentosum called tube curare. The latter is used to produce tubocurarine used in modern medicine. Walter Raleigh (GB), in 1596, gave an early report on the arrow poison (curare) (1971).


The sweating-sickness is reported in England.

Diphtheria (malignant sore throat) is in Amsterdam and the Rhineland.


Thomas Linacre (GB), along with Cardinal Wolsey, persuaded Henry VIII, King of England, to establish the Royal College of Physicians of London, with Linacre serving as its first president. This college had the power to examine candidates and license them if they passed an examination, graduates of Oxford and Cambridge being exempted. Linacre is also important because he was a first rate Latin and Greek scholar who translated Galen (Galeni) from the Greek into Latin (1572).


Smallpox (red plague) followed by starvation killed millions of the native inhabitants of Mexico. Introduced at Veracruz with the arrival of Panfilo de Narvaez on April 23, 1520, it rapidly spread inland, and was credited with the victory of Cortes over the Aztec empire at Tenochtitlan (present-day Mexico City) in 1521. From Mexico it spread south into Central and South America, exterminating huge numbers of natives in those areas as well (1396).

The most likely scenario is that either Calusa merchants based in southern Florida or Maya merchants spread the small pox microbes as they made stops along the North American Gulf Coast.

Long before 1775, repeated bouts of Old World pestilence occurred in the years that followed Cortes's conquest. Smallpox, measles, influenza, mumps, typhus, cholera, plague, malaria, yellow fever, scarlet fever, whooping cough, and diphtheria wreaked havoc (851).


Jacopo Berengario da Carpi; Giacomo Berengario da Carpi (more correctly Barigazzi) (IT) wrote Carpi Commentaria cum Amplissimis Additionibus Super Anatomia Mundini, in 1521, then Isagogae Breves, in 1522. He distinguished the chyliferous ducts from the veins, described the vermiform appendix, mentions that the common biliary duct opens into the duodenum where bile often stains it yellow, gave a clear account of the thymus gland, discussed the action of the cardiac valves, and described a horse shoe kidney. Vas deferens is a term he originated (242-244). He was the first anatomist to recognize the importance of anatomical illustrations properly related to the text.


Alessandro Achillini (IT) wrote a commentary on Mondino in which he gave the first descriptions of the malleus and incus, ossicles of the ear, the submaxillary duct, the ileocecal valve, rediscovered the fornix and infundibulum and the cerebral cavities (25). See, Thomas Wharton (GB), 1656, rediscovery of the submaxillary duct.


Jacopo Berengario da Capri; Giacomo Berengario da Carpi (IT), Bernardino Partenio (IT), and Benedetto Faelli (IT) were the first to pictorially present the location of the vermiform appendix in man. They described appendicitis in a post-mortem examination (245). See, Fernel, 1526.

Guillaume de Baillou; William of Ballion; Wilhelm Ballonius (FR) described acute (gangrenous) appendicitis in 1734 (160, 1685). Note: Baillou is considered the founder of modern epidemiology (644).

Claudius Aymand (FR) performed the first successful appendectomy. He removed an appendix containing a calcified mass surrounding a pin (80).

Lorenz Heister (DE) was the first to study the pathology of appendicitis. He described appendicitis as follows: “I found the small guts very red and inflamed in several places…. But, when I was about to demonstrate the situation of the great guts, I found the vermiform process of the caecum preternaturally black, adhering closer to the peritonaeum than usual. As I now was about to separate it…the membranes of this process broke…and discharged two or three spoonfuls of matter. This instance may stand as a proof of the possibility of inflammations arising, and abscesses forming, in the appendicula” (1154, 1155).

John W.K. Parkinson (GB) performed a post-mortem on a boy finding impacted material in the appendix, which had become inflamed, with obstruction, perforation, and peritonitis. From these clinical observations, Parkinson was able to give a good description, in 1812, of fatal appendicitis (1849). His brother James Parkinson (GB) communicated his work.

Francois Mélier (FR) described 6 cases of appendicitis at autopsy and ascribed the origin of purulent iliac tumor (appendicitis) to inflammation of the appendix and suggested the possibility of appendectomy as an operation (1659).

Robert Lawson Tait (GB) performed a successful appendectomy and drained a large abscess in 1880 (2386).

Reginald Heber Fitz (US) demonstrated the pathology of the vermiform appendix, and advocated immediate radical surgical treatment of acute appendicitis by removal of the offending organ, i.e., appendectomy. In this paper he coined the term appendicitis (869). Delaying medical treatment was the norm at this time.

Abraham Groves (CA) on 10 May 1883 performed an appendectomy on a young boy. He removed the inflamed appendix after ligating its base and the mesentery. The appendiceal stump was sterilized by means of a probe heated in the flame of a lamp (1056).

Rudolf Ulrich Krönlein (CH), in 1884, would also perform an appendectomy for appendicitis. The patient died from complications within a few days (1410).

Thomas George Morton (US) was one of the first to deliberately operate for and remove the inflamed appendix after correct diagnosis, April 1887. The patient survived. Case reported by Woodbury (2736).

Nicholas Senn (CH-US) was among the first surgeons to diagnose acute appendicitis and to perform a successful appendectomy (2219).

Edward R. Cutler (US) performed the first clean (unruptured) appendectomy in 1887 (2073).

Owen Harding Wangensteen (US) and Clarence Dennis (US) provided experimental proof of the obstructive origin of appendicitis in man (2638).


Ulrich Ellenbog (DE) wrote the first work on an occupational disease. It is a pamphlet on the diseases of goldsmiths and the first known work on industrial hygiene and toxicology. Written in 1473 it was not published until 1524 (808).

Theophrastus Phillippus Aureolus Bombastus von Hohenheim; Paracelsus (CH) wrote the first monograph on the diseases of an occupational group, miners. He described diseases resulting from contact with metals, those acquired from the breathing of fumes produced by smelters, including mercury and arsenical poisoning (1836).

Bernardino Ramazzini (IT) discussed the etiology, treatment, and prevention of over 50 diseases associated with various trades. He discussed mercury poisoning in surgeons and lead poisoning in painters, as well as the sciatica of potters and eye troubles of painters (1972, 1973, 1975).

Théodore Tronchin (CH) showed that the so-called 'Poitou-colic' was caused by drinking water that had passed through lead gutters (2445).

George Baker (GB) proved that Devonshire colic (from cider drinking) was caused by the lead used in vats and cider presses (159).

John Ayrton Paris (GB) noticed that arsenic fumes ("arsenical vapor") might contribute to the occurrence of scrotal skin cancer in the copper-smelting works of Cornwall and Wales (1848).

Jonathan Hutchinson (GB) reported on the occurrence of skin cancer as a result of the medical use of arsenic (1287).

Ludwig Wilhelm Carl Rehn (DE) reported the appearance of urinary bladder tumors among men employed in the German aniline dyestuff industry in the production of 'fuchsin' (magenta) (1997).

By the year 1907 it was officially recognized in Great Britain that cancer of any cutaneous site could be caused by pitch, tar, or tarry compounds (1160). 

Katsusaburo Yamagiwa (JP) and Koichi Ichikawa (JP) were the first to demonstrate that skin cancers can be induced by repeated exposure of mammalian skin to coal tar (2744). 


Smallpox (red plague) in Peru killed the Inca ruler, Huayna Capac, and some 200,000 others, and destroyed the Inca Empire (1396).

ca. 1526

“All substances are poisonous, there is none which is not a poison; the right dose differentiates a poison from a remedy.” Paracelsus (1840)

Theophrastus Phillippus Aureolus Bombastus von Hohenheim; Paracelsus (CH) in his, Die Grosse Wundartznei, discouraged the treating of wounds with irritating solutions and emphasized the natural healing powers of the tissues. His monograph Diseases that Deprive Man of His Reason is an early classic on mental diseases. He observed cysticeri, the larval stage of parasitic worms, in brains of deceased patients with epilepsy; noted the relationship between cretinism and endemic goiter; prepared and popularized many tinctures and extracts including laudanum (alcoholic tincture of opium) which he named; and popularized the use of mercury, lead, sulfur, iron, arsenic, and copper sulfate in medicine (1837-1840).


Jean Francois Fernel; Joannis Fernelii; Joannes Fernelius (FR) was the first modern physician to make dissection an important part of his clinical duties, and the first to describe post-mortem appendicitis (See, Aulus Cornelius Celsus (Roman) in 30 B.C.E.), peristalsis, and the central canal of the spinal cord. He introduced the terms physiology and pathology, noted that the arteries increased in size during systole, reported that some nerves are sensory and others motor (See, Herophilus of Alexandria, 300 B.C.E.), that the meninges of the brain have sensation while the brain itself lacks a sense of touch, and the anterior brain is the origin and seat of sensation, and the posterior of motion. He described an epidemic of influenza in 1544 and noted encephalitis as a complication, gave an excellent description of syphilis (which he called lues venereae) and pointed out that an infant could contract it from suckling. He rejected mercury in its treatment, preferring guaiac. Fernel was also an astronomer and the first to accurately measure a meridian of longitude. Within 30 years after Columbus’ voyages he wrote three treatises on the earth as a sphere, whirling with other planets about the sun (852-856, 858).

ca. 1527

Luca Ghini (IT) is notable as the creator of the first recorded herbarium, as well as the first botanical garden in Europe (1314).


Theophrastus Phillippus Aureolus Bombastus von Hohenheim; Paracelsus (CH) mentions in his writings of 1527 that adding wine or vinegar to urine could cause some urines to curdle and yield a milky precipitate (807). Doubtless this was albumin in the urine.

Frederik Dekkers (NL) in examining the urine of diabetics found that it contained albumin (acetic acid test) and tasted like sweet milk (166). He also found that the urine of patients with phthisis (pulmonary tuberculosis) contains protein, i.e., proteinuria (726).

Frederick Dekkers (NL) reported in 1694 that certain urines are coagulable by heat (281).

See, Domenico Felice Antonio Cotugno, 1775.

William Cruickshank (GB) carried out extensive chemical studies and reported in 1797 that the urines of certain dropsical patients could be coagulated by nitrous acid or by heat, but that “in the dropsy proceeding from diseased liver and other morbid viscera the urine does not coagulate either by nitrous acid or heat (2059).

William Charles Wells (US-GB) related that albumin is commonly found in the urine of patients suffering from dropsy (edema). This is commonly referred to as proteinuria (2669).

See, Richard Bright, 1827.


Typhus attacked French troops besieging Naples, killing well over half the army. The remaining soldiers retreated and were then destroyed by forces of the Holy Roman Empire. The troops of Charles V later suffered their own defeat to typhus at the French city of Metz in 1552 (1396).


Sweating-sickness is in England then spreads over Europe.


An outbreak of the dreaded sweats (the modern day equivalent of this disease is unknown) led Martin Luther and Zwingli to break off their colloquy in Marburg, without achieving agreement on a definition of the Eucharist. This appears to have sealed the split between Lutheran and Swiss (soon to become Calvinist) reform along lines that deeply affected subsequent European history, and has endured to the present (536).

Joannes Theodor van den Kasteele (NL) discussed the epidemiology of sweating-sickness (2483).


Otto Brunfels (DE) authored his two volume Herbarum Vivae Icones that made him immortal in the field of botany (419). In a dedicatory letter to the Senate of Strasbourg he described this work as follows, “In this whole work I have no other end in view than that of giving a prop to fallen botany; to bring back to life a science almost extinct. And because of this has seemed to me to be in no other way possible than by thrusting aside all the old herbals, and publishing new and really life-like engravings, and along with them accurate descriptions extracted from ancient and trustworthy authors, I have attempted both; using the greatest care and pains that both should be faithfully done.” 

The plant genus Brunfelsia was named in his honor in 1703 (1926).

Girolamo Fracastoro; Hieronymus Fracastorius (IT), a Veronese physician, poet, and geologist wrote the poem Syphilis sive Morbus Gallicus. The main figure in this poem is the shepherd Syphilis from whom the name for the venereal disease is derived. In the poem the young shepherd is stricken by a malady as a penalty for lack of respect to the gods. So immensely popular was the poem that the name of its hero has remained associated with the disease ever since. Records indicate that the disease in Europe, in its acute phase, was extraordinarily malignant for about 60 years beginning in the 1490’s; thereafter, it became milder, though its late consequences remain serious (925-927).

The College of France was founded.


Plague is reported in England.


Charles Etienne (FR) described the veins of the liver  and the central canal of the spinal cord. Ref In 1546 he described morbid cavitation in the spinal cord (syringomyelia. ref


Valerius Cordus (DE) authored Dispensatorium, or manner of preparing all medicines, which was so popular that it was reprinted for 150 years. In 1561 his four volume De Historia Plantarum was published followed by a fifth volume in 1563 (554, 555).

Although Cordus died at the age of twenty-nine his works place him among the great botanists of all time. Edward Lee Greene in describing him said “Cordus left no dissertations on the philosophy of plants, but only his descriptions of some five hundred species; and it is out of these fragments, all posthumously published, that we gather proofs of his resplendent genius” (802). The plant genus Cordia was dedicated to him in 1703 (1926).  In his De Historia Plantarum he was the first to use the term pollen (985). 

Jean Ruel (FR) authored De Natura Stirpium, a great classic in the field of botany (2080). Of this work Edward Lee Greene says, “ …it is the first volume produced within the period of the Renaissance which from beginning to end carries the implication that botany is botany, and that pharmacy, like agriculture, pomology, and horticulture, is but one of its departments, and all of them subsidiary to the philosophy of plant life as a whole” (802).


Nicolo Massa (IT) discussed the cerebrospinal fluid and described the prostate gland for the first time (1622).

Girolamo Cardano; Jerome Cardan (IT) gave one of the earliest descriptions of typhoid fever. “The thirty-sixth fatal error is, in that disease, which produces in the body, marks like the bites of fleas. For they seek to call this by the name of measles, we shall call it from its resemblance pulicaris…. Measles are elevated above the skin… Morbus pulicaris is wholly without elevations, and only spots on the skin are present, in its nature deadly” (453).


Ambroise Paré (FR), a master barber-surgeon who served many years in the army, declared that supposedly poisoned gunshot wounds were simple contused wounds, and proceeded to bandage them without hot oil. (Note: Most surgeons of the day practiced searing heavily. They disinfected gunshot wounds with boiling oil and stopped the bleeding by cauterizing the arteries without anesthetics. Paré used soothing ointments for gunshot wounds and tied off arteries and veins to stop bleeding.) He successfully treated gunshot wounds with bandages soaked in egg yolk, turpentine, and oil of roses. He was the first to employ the ligature in the case of arterial hemorrhage and in amputation. He invented many surgical instruments, introduced massage, artificial limbs and artificial eyes into surgery, described congenital syphilis in detail, championed the podalic version in difficult labor and practiced induced labor for serious uterine hemorrhage. With Franco (FR) he was one of the first to describe in detail the principles and techniques in the surgical treatment of cleft palate (756, 1841, 1843, 1846, 1847). The use of ligature to stop bleeding was not his invention but rather had been in use for at least three centuries before his time.

Antonio Musa Brasavola; Antonius M. Brasavola; Antonius M. Brasavolus; Antonius M. Brassavolus (IT) authored Examen Omnium Simplicium (An Examination of All Medicinal Simples), covering drugs/herbs dispensed in the shops or apothecaries. It became the most popular book on botany that had ever been written (360).


Jean Francois Fernel; Joannis Fernelii; Joannes Fernelius (FR) mentions the beginning of a pandemic of dysentery (the "bloody flux") in Europe (857).


The first university in the Americas was established at Santo Domingo (in what is now the Dominican Republic) followed in 1551 by the University of Mexico and in 1636 by Harvard University, in the U.S.A.


Influenza is common in Europe and England.

ca. 1540

Girolamo Dorzellini (IT) and Alessandro Massaria (IT) wrote epidemiological works on plagues (1623, 2218).


Giovanni Battista Canano; Jean Baptiste Cananus (IT) wrote Musculorum Humani Corporis Picturata Dissectio in which he illustrated and described his discovery of the palmaris brevis muscle, the oblique head of the adductor pollicis. He was the first to present anatomical drawings of lumbricales and interossei of the hand (448). He is incorrectly credited with the discovery of the function of the valves within the veins. See, Amatus Lisitanus, 1547.


Nicolaus Copernicus (DE) described the true system of the sun, stars and planets in his great work, De Revolutionibus Orbium, which established the Sun, not the Earth, as the hub of our solar system (552). See, Nicholas of Cusa, 1444.

Leonhard Fuchs (DE), along with his paid assistants Albrecht Meyer (DE), Heinrich Füllmaurer (DE), and Veit Rudolf Speckle (DE) authored Historia Stirpium. One of the most beautiful of all herbals; it contains 500 large high quality plates of plants. Digitalis purpurea (red foxglove) is here described for the first time (943, 1671). The plant genus Fuchsia was named in his honor in 1703 (1926).


Luca Ghini (IT) was one of the first to use dried plants for scientific study and in 1543-44 he established the first botanic garden, at Pisa, Italy (112). Cesalpino was one of his pupils. Botanical gardens were soon established in Florence (1544), Bologna (1547), and Paris (1626) (876).

Pitton de Tournefort (FR), around 1700, used the term herbarium for a collection of dried plants. Linnaeus took up this term (112, 715).

Andreas Wesele Vesalius (NL) published a book, which was the most accurate description of the human anatomy to date. De Corporis Humani Fabrica (On the Structure of the Human Body) with its excellent illustrations by Johann Stephan van Kalkar (NL) is one of the great books in the history of science; containing many exceptional illustrations drawn from what was seen in actual dissections rather than resorting to a previous authority. He was the first to illustrate the malleus and the incus and to show their correct association with the tympanic membrane; he gave them their common names. He did not, however, describe the third ossicle, i.e., the stapes. He concluded that the central seat of olfaction is probably the brain, and not the ventricles (2551). Vesalius did away with the old system of having demonstrators present the parts as the teacher mentioned them. He performed the dissections himself, often before large crowds, and soon realized that the anatomy presented by Galen (Galeni) was weak and often wrong. Vesalius taught in the medical school at Padua, Italy from 1539 to 1546 and is considered the founder of scientific anatomy and of the technique of modern dissection.

Volcher Coiter; Volcher Koiter; Volcherus Coeiter; Volcker Koyter (NL) wrote the first monograph on the ear. In it he correctly traced the vibrations constituting sound from the external ear to the cochlea (533). Note: This book is actually a collection of monographs.

Giovanni Filippo Ingrassia (IT), in 1548, was the first to accurately describe the stapes, the oval window, and the round window of the ear (1308, 2159). His book was published posthumously.

Antonio Maria Valsalva (IT) described what has come to be called the Valsalva maneuver. “Thus (in order to offer one of many proofs) if someone would instill a medicinal fluid into the tympanic cavity…or in the outer portion of the auditory meatus and if now, with mouth and nose closed, an attempt is made to compress the air, fluid would flow copiously from the auditory meatus. I recommend this for a prompt evacuation of a suppurative lesion since this may be remedial for the illness that might not occur by itself…. However, many more benefits may be derived from the physician's knowledge of these functions.”

He wrote that the zona cochlea is composed of the finest terminations of the auditory nerve; used the terms scala vestibuli and scala tympani; divided the ear into external, middle, and inner parts; and recognized perilymph within the inner ear. He coined the term Eustachian tube (2477, 2478).

Christian Ludwig Willich (DE) discovered the endolymph within the membranous labyrinth of the ear (2698).

Marie-Jean-Pierre Flourens (FR) suggested that the semicircular canals of the inner ear do not function in hearing. He argued that they play a role in reflexive orientation (879).

Adam Politzer (HU-AT) provided experimental proof that the ossicles of the ear vibrate to sound stimuli (1927).

Andreas Wesele Vesalius (NL) was the first to state the theory behind artificial ventilation, "But that life may ... be restored to the animal, an opening must be attempted in the trunk of the trachea, in which a tube of reed or cane should be put; you will then blow into this, so that the lung may rise again and the animal take in air. ... And as I do this, and take care that the lung is inflated in intervals, the motion of the heart and arteries does not stop..." Andreas Wesele Vesalius (2551).

Marianus Sanctus de Barletta; Mariano Santo di Barletta (IT) gave the first account of median lithotomy, a new method that appeared around 1520. Francisco Romano of Cremona (IT) was the person who devised this technique (645).

England experienced the plague. 


Ambroise Paré (FR) reported a controlled medical experiment in which he evaluated onions as a dressing for wounds, a treatment that had been suggested to him by "an old country woman". He dressed parts of the wounds and burns with crushed onion and left other parts either untouched, or treated with more traditional remedies. Crushed onion seemed to be more effective than the alternatives (1845). This is one of the earliest recorded medical experiments with controls.

Thomas Phaer; Thomas Phayer; Thomas Phaire (GB), in 1545, wrote the first English-language pediatric book, The Boke of Chyldren, which included chapters on aposteme of the brayne (meningitis), scalles of the heed, styfnesse of the lymmes, bloodshoten eyes [Kawasaki disease?], diseases in the eares, canker in the mouth, quynsye or swelling of the throte, coughe, feblenesse of the stomacke and vomiting, fluxe of the belly (diarrhea), wormes, small pockes and measels, fevers, and consumpcion (1892).


George Bauer; Georgius Agricola (DE) wrote the first book on physical geology, De Ortu et Causis Subterraneorum, which is important because of its descriptions of wind and water as powerful geological forces, and for its explanation of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions as produced by subterranean vapors and gases heated by the Earth's internal heat. His book De Natura Fossilium (On the Nature of Fossils), also published in 1546, is considered his most important contribution to paleontology. This book is not restricted to what we call fossils today: the Latin word fossilis meant anything dug out of the ground, and Agricola's book included descriptions of all kinds of minerals, gemstones, and even gallstones, in addition to what we would call fossils now. Agricola's work summed up what the ancient Greek and Roman authors had written about minerals, and included a list of a hundred ancient authors whose works Agricola had consulted -- but Agricola was not afraid to contradict the ancients' opinions if they did not fit with his own experience. His work represented a major advance over previous writings on rocks and minerals in that it classified them, not alphabetically or by their supposed mystical powers, but by simple physical properties: "Thus minerals have differences which we observe by color, taste, odor, place of origin, natural strength and weakness, shape, form, and size." Agricola gave standardized names to various minerals, and not only recorded their appearance but the localities where they could be found. He also noted how the same fossils might have different colors and appearances in different places. Although Agricola's work included no pictures, his descriptions of fossils are often instantly recognizable. In his book De Re Metallica (On the Nature of Metals) Agricola noted that rocks were laid down in definite layers, or strata, and that these layers occurred in a consistent order and could be traced over a wide area. This observation of Agricola's was one of the first contributions to stratigraphic geology, and one that would become important in understanding the arrangement and origins of the rocks of the Earth.

He destructively distilled amber and found that succinic acid sublimed and settled as crystals (38-40, 867).

Girolamo Fracastoro; Hieronymus Fracastorius (IT) in his treatise De Contagione et Contagiosis Morbis et Eorum Curatione described three types of contagion: 1) contagion by contact alone; (2) contagion by fomites; and (3) contagion at a distance. He defines fomites as clothes, wooden things, and other things of those sorts, which in themselves are not corrupted but are able to preserve the original germs of the contagion and to give rise to its transference to others. It was his belief that infection which appears among fruits is transferred in a similar manner as that produced by contact among humans. 

Fracastoro points out that all contagions do not behave alike. Some attack one organ, others another organ. Variola (smallpox, red plague) and measles attack children by preference. Every person is attacked once, but it is rare for people who have had these diseases once to have them again. He believed that tuberculosis was infectious and attacked only the lungs. He discussed the epidemiology of petechial fever and syphilis vividly, noting that syphilis could be transferred to infants by way of an infected mother’s blood. 

He observed that hydrophobia (rabies) was only propagated by the bite of a rabid dog and described the affliction as follows: “Its incubation (following a bite by a rabid animal) is so stealthy, slow and gradual that the infection is very rarely manifest before the 20th day, in most cases the 30th, and in many cases not until four or six months have elapsed. There are cases recorded in which it became manifest a year after the bite.” Once the disease takes hold “the patient can neither stand nor lie down; like a madman he flings himself hither and thither, tears his flesh with his hands, and feels intolerable thirst. This is the most distressing symptom, for he so shrinks from water and all liquids that he would rather die than drink or be brought near to water; it is then that they bite other persons, foam at the mouth, their eyes look twisted, and finally they are exhausted and painfully breath their last” (926).

Antonio Musa Brasavola; Antonius Musa Brasavolus (IT) published an account of tracheostomy for tonsillar obstruction. He is the first person known to have actually performed the operation (361).


Amatus Lusitanus; Amato Lusitano; João Rodriques de Castelo Branco (PT) along with others he discovered the circulation of the blood, and through dissections of the Azygos vein, he was the first to observe and speculate about function of the venous valves found there (1548).

Plague is in England.


Pedro Jimeno; Pedro Gimeno (ES) described the stapes (1328).


Konrad Gesner; Conrad Gessner; Conrad Geßner; Conrad von Gesner; Conradus Gesnerus; Conrad Gesner (CH) wrote Historia Animalium, a five volume work of over 3,500 pages containing nearly 1,000 woodcuts. It marks the beginning of scientific zoology and is considered the best purely zoological work of the Renaissance. He also wrote Opera Botanica. These works would influence such later taxonomists as Carl Linné; Carl von Linné; Carolus Linnaeus and Cuvier (986, 987, 2428). The plant genus Gesnera was dedicated to him in 1703 (1926).

Pierre Bélon; Pierre Bélon du Mans; Petrus Bellonius Cenomanus (FR) is regarded as one of the first workers in the science of comparative anatomy (228-230).

Pierre Bélon; Bellonius (FR) published a book in which he not only described and illustrated various birds but emphasized homology between bones in the skeletons of man and birds (230).

Ambroise Paré (FR) states that severing a nerve is acceptable treatment for severe pain (1842).

Influenza is common in France.

Epidemic of sweating-sickness occurs in England.  


Jerome Bock; Jerome Boch; Hieronymous Tragus; Hieronymous Bock; Hieronymous Herbarius; Jerome Botanist; Jerome Herbalist (DE) authored De Stirpium, a botanical treatise of the highest order, in which he described many plants in superb verbal delineation; some for the first time (303). The plant genus Tragia was dedicated to him in 1703 (1926). 

Bartolomeo Eustachi; Bartolomeo Eustachio; Bartolomeo Eustachius (IT) wrote Tabulae Anatomicae in which the drawings of the face, larynx, and sympathetic nervous system are so good that they were unsurpassed until modern times. He did discover and describe the thoracic duct but the Eustachian tube, which bears his name, was not his discovery, having been known to Alcmaèon and Aristotle. The 1714 reference contains the first detailed description with accurate drawings of the adrenal glands, which he called glandulae renibus incumbentes (824, 826, 827). Eustachio was, however, the first to accurately describe the tuba auditiva (Eustachian tube) in 1564 (825). Eustachi completed his anatomical copper plates in 1552. The Italian anatomist Antonio Maria Valsalva, Professor of Anatomy at Bologna, introduced the term Eustachian tube. See, Valsalva, 1704 in the year 1543 in this document.

Jacobus Benignus Winslow (DK-FR) coined the phrase sympathetic nerve because he believed that these nerves were concerned with both the control of viscera and the production of sympathy (2714).

Girolamo Cardano (IT), mathematician and physician, in 1552, showed remarkable insight into the concept of allergy when he cured John Hamilton, the Archbishop of Edinburgh, of asthma by forbidding him to use feathers in his bed (454).

ca. 1553

Blaise de Vigenere (FR) produced benzoic acid as a sublimation product from benjamin (gum benzoin) (1669).

Theodor Turquet de Mayerne (FR), Pierre-Jean Robiquet (FR), and Antoine-Francois Boutron-Charlard (FR) are also credited with producing benzoic acid, although at later dates (1, 2051).

Cristóbal Méndez (ES) wrote Libro del Exercicio Corporal in which he extols the virtues of exercise (1661).


Michael Servetus; Miguel Serveto; Villanovanus (ES) described the lesser circulation (pulmonary circulation) of blood through the lungs and showed that the blood is purified by respiration in the lungs. He asserted that there are vessels in the lungs “formed out of vein and artery.” Servetus reasoned that the pulmonary artery is too large and carries too much blood to serve merely for nutrition of the lungs (2229, 2230).

Quoting Servetus, “It is in the lungs, consequently, that the mixture (of the inspired air with the blood) takes place, and it is in the lungs also, not in the heart, that the crimson colour of the blood is acquired” (1807). See, Ibn Nafis, 1246. Note: Servetus was burned at the stake as a result of his ideas, which Calvin considered heretical.

Pedro de Cieza de Leon (ES) wrote Chronica del Peru, which contains among other things accounts of how natives used coca leaves, potato, and curare (508). Nicolas Monardes (ES) made the first scientific reference to coca (1695). Coca was later named Erythroxylon coca, meaning red wood. 


Rembert Dodoens; Rembertus Dodonäus; Rembert van Joenckema (BE) authored Cruydeboeck into which he collected and edited much of the botanical knowledge available. It treated in detail especially the medicinal herbs (753). The plant genus Dodonæa was dedicated to him in 1737 (1512).

Guillaume Rondelet (FR-IT) published books describing and illustrating fish, seals, whales, mollusks, and worms. Rondolet identified 244 species of fish (2062, 2063).

Johannes Lange (DE) gave one of the first descriptions of anemia, which he called morbus virgineus. “Her face, which…was distinguished by rosiness of cheeks and redness of lips, is some how as if exsanguinated, sadly paled, the heart trembles with every movement of her body, and the arteries of her temples pulsate, & she is seized with dyspnoea in dancing or climbing the stairs… & the legs…become edematous at night…. This disease frequently attacks virgins, when now mature they pass from youth to virility. For at this time, the menstrual blood flows from the liver to the…womb” (1441).

Jean de Varanda (FR) renamed this disease chlorosis. The popular English term was the green sickness, referring to the greenish hue assumed by Caucasians when their blood is low in hemoglobin (717).

Pierre Blaud (FR) enjoyed considerable success recommending the use of pills containing ferrous sulfate for the treatment of chlorosis (293).

Jean Francois Fernel; Joannis Fernelii; Joannes Fernelius (FR) in referring to gallbladder problems stated, “Obstruction, calculus, fullness & emptiness attack the gall bladder. The obstruction is either of the duct by which the bile is led away from the liver, or of that by which it is discharged from the gall bladder into the intestine…. In both [the] feces [are] whitish [and] the bile diffused with the blood throughout the whole body disfigures the skin with jaundice.” Here he gives the earliest description of endocarditis, notes the systole and diastole of the heart and is the first to describe peristalsis in the gastrointestinal tract. Among his anatomical observations was the earliest description of the spinal canal (855).


Charles de l’Écluse; Carolus Clusius (FR-DE-NL), who was appointed to a professorship at Leyden, is considered the founder of scientific botany (2414).

Antonio Musa Brasavola; Antonius Musa Brasavolus (IT) wrote an epidemiological work on syphilis (362).

Smallpox (red plague) struck Brazil for the first time, killing vast numbers of natives (1396).

Andreas Wesele Vesalius (NL), in the second edition of his De Humani Corporis Fabrica, noted a young girl to have a head larger than a man’s. The fluid was described as not being collected between the skull and the exterior membrane, but within the cavity of the brain itself. Nine pounds of water was removed from the ventricles at autopsy. Doubtless this was a case of hydrocephalus (2552).

John Friend (GB) gave one of the first accounts of hydrocephalus (938).

See, William Heberden, 1768.

John Cheyne (GB) described acute hydrocephalus (495). 


Jacques Dubois; Jacobus Sylvius (FR) wrote In Hippocratis et Galeni Physiologiae Partem Anatomicam Isagoge a Jacobo Sylvio, in which he gave names to many blood vessels and muscles; names we still use today (780).

Andre Thevet (FR), a Franciscan monk, was the first to bring tobacco from the Americas to Europe. He transplanted Nicotiana tabacum from Brazil to France and described tobacco as a creature comfort (12).


Influenza epidemic is in Europe and England.


Ippolito Salviani (IT) produced the first iconography of the fishes of the Mediterranean. They were printed from copper-engraved plates. Ninety-three fishes and other marine life are illustrated in the 81 plates with 18 species being new to science (2114).

Felix Platter (CH) was the first to carry out a public dissection of the human body in a Germanic country. He was the first physician to describe persistent thymus (persisting into adulthood and occasionally exhibiting hypertrophy) with thymic death and wrote excellent descriptions of myxedema and gallstones (1908, 1910). Note: The diagnosis of thymic death is frequently made the dumping ground of unexplained sudden death. A large thymus is rather the rule than the exception in patients dying suddenly.


Matteo Realdo Colombo (IT) wrote De Re Anatomica in which he placed the lens of the eye in its proper position, described the mediastinum, the pleura, and the peritoneum in a way superior to his predecessors and determined that the pulmonary vein is always full of blood contrary to the teaching of Galen (Galeni). He described the lesser circulation (pulmonary circulation) of blood through the lungs in detail (537, 553). See, Ibn Nafis, 1246.

ca. 1560

Pierre Franco (FR) was considered to be an outstanding practitioner of lithotomy, amputations, treatment of hernia, cataracts, and harelip (928).


Gabriele Falloppio; Gabriel Fallopius (IT) wrote Observationes Anatomicae in which he described the human inner ear (Chorda tympani, the semicircular canals), the trigeminal nerve (5th cranial nerve), the sphenoidal sinuses, the human ovaries, virginal hymen, clitoris, round ligaments, and the tubes leading from the ovaries to the uterus; today these oviducts are called Fallopian tubes in his honor. He gave the first clear description of primary dentition, the follicle of the tooth bud, and the manner of growth and replacement of the primary by the secondary tooth, as well as the first denial of the belief that teeth and bones are derived from the same tissues. He was also the first to describe the three muscle coats of the urinary bladder. Falloppio introduced the modern scientific terms vagina, placenta (Gk. plakuos, a flat cake), cochlea, labyrinth, palate, velum palati, and described the seminal vesicles in the human male. His description of the Fallopian tube is as follows: “That slender and narrow seminal passage arises from the horn of the uterus very white and sinewy but after it has passed outward a little way it becomes gradually broader and curls like the tendrils of a vine until it comes near the end when the tendril-like curls spread out and it terminates in a very broad ending which appears membranous and fleshy on account of its reddish colour” (838, 840).

Luigi Anguillara (IT) authored Semplici Del Excellente and was hailed as the greatest botanist of his time (92).


Felix Wurtz; Felix Wirtz; Felix Wirz, Felix Wuertz (CH-DE) wrote his Practica in which he criticized bloodletting, probing, cataplasms, plasters, and salves. He treated wounds with soothing applications, decried the employment of irritating solutions, and taught that wounds should heal by primary intention whenever possible. Long wounds, wounds of the face and of the abdomen should be sutured but not wounds in which there was much pus. The cautery should be used only for amputations and in arterial bleeding; otherwise compression is the method of choice. Wurtz was the first surgeon to describe amputation at the thigh (2742).

Bartolomeo Eustachi; Bartolomeo Eustacchio; Bartolomeo Eustachius (IT), in 1563, wrote A Little Treatise on the Teeth: the First Authoritative Book on Dentistry (828).

Garcia de Orta (PT) deals with a series of medicinal substances, many of them unknown or the subject of confusion and misinformation in Europe at this period. He was the first European to describe Asiatic tropical diseases, notably cholera; he performed an autopsy on a cholera victim, the first recorded autopsy in India (701).

Gabriele Falloppio; Gabriel Fallopius (IT) described his contraceptive sheath used for preventing transmission of syphilis. It was a medicated sheath covering the tip of the penis and under the foreskin, held in place by a pink ribbon so that it would appeal to women. In referring to his clinical trial, he says, "I tried the experiment [the use of condoms] on 1,100 men, and I call immortal God to witness that not one of them was infected" (839). The Earl of Condom (GB), at the request of Charles II, devised an oiled sheath made from sheep intestine as a contraceptive.

Thomas Gale (GB) wrote An Enchiridion of Chirurgerie, the first complete work on surgery in the English language (953).

Bubonic plague (Yersinia pestis) struck London again in 1563, in what was probably its worst outbreak ever, killing an estimated quarter to a third of the population. Subsequent outbreaks occurred in 1578, 1593, 1603, 1625, 1636, and 1665, each time killing thousands. In terms of proportion of the total population destroyed, the 1563 and 1665 epidemics were the worst (1396).


Julio Cesare Aranzio; Giulio Cesare Aranzi; Julius Caesar Arantius (IT) described both the fetal foramen ovale and the ductus arteriosus, but modestly claimed only to elaborate in detail on Galen's (Galeni’s) earlier descriptions. He thought these anatomical structures were supposed to nourish the heart and lungs with venous and arterial blood, respectively. He noted the post-natal closing of the ductus arteriosus and the foramen ovale (105).

Leonardo Botallo (IT) published the first description of hay fever and appears to have been the first to describe a persistent foramen ovale after birth, but without understanding its function in the fetal state. He called it vena arteriarum nutrix (326). Galen; Galenos; Claudii Galeni; Aelius Galenus; Claudius Galenus; Clarissimus Galen of Pergamum (modern Turkey) (GR-Roman) had also described the foramen ovale in the second century in his De Usu Partium (957).

Francesco Plazzoni (NL) was the first to delineate the uterus, the fetus, and the placenta in the various stages of development, and was the first to record a pelvic deformity. He also made the first valid pronouncement on pelvic contraction in the history of obstetrics, a clear description of its effect on labor (1913). The first edition was in 1564.


Simon de Vallambert (FR) noted that a child born of a mother who is without obvious venereal symptoms and shows this disease when it is a few weeks old will infect the healthiest nurse and yet this child is never known to infect its mother (716).

Abraham Colles (IE) rediscovered this relationship in 1837 when it became known as Colles’ law. He incorrectly concluded that the mother is resistant. He was ignorant of the fact that the mother already had the disease (534).

Geronimo Mercuriali; Girolamo Mercuriali; Girolamo Mercuriale; Mercurialis; Hieronymus Mercurialis (IT) wrote De Arte Gymnastica, the first book on sports medicine (1664).


Plague appeared among British troops in Ireland.


Marcello Donati describes epidemic smallpox (red plague) and measles at Mantua, Italy.


Severe plague is epidemic in Edinburgh.

ca. 1570

Thomas Jordanus (AT) wrote on the epidemiology of purple or petechial fever (1338).


Plague is reported in Europe.

Matthias de L'Obel (Flemish-GB) and Petrus Pena () authored Adversaria Nova, a botanical presentation emphasizing the philosophy of botany and the abstractness of systematization. Its natural taxonomy is what ranks it as a great book (677).


Volcher Coiter; Volcherus Coeiter; Volcker Koyter (NL) made a series of observations of the chick’s day by day development in the incubated egg. He was the first to observe the blastoderm of the chick (533). Note: This work contains the earliest study of the growth of the skeleton as a whole in the human fetus, the first descriptions of the spinal ganglia, and musculus corrugator supercilii, and the first published study of chick embryo development based upon direct observation since the three-period description (after three, ten and twenty days of incubation) given by Aristotle in his Historia Animalium.

Constanzo Varolio (IT) describes what is obviously cerebrospinal fluid and publishes a new method of dissecting the brain whereby he separated the brain from the skull and began the dissection from the base. Varolio described many of the brain's structures for the first time including the pons or pons Varolii (741, 2542).


There is a pandemic of plague.


Amboise Pare (FR) described aneurisms and lamented their incurable nature. He also described surgical treatment of emphysema arising from pleurisy (1844, 1845).


Mexico's first epidemic of typhus killed many natives. This was another of the lethal diseases introduced by Europeans (1396).

Paris and several other European cities suffered from outbreaks of diphtheria (1396).

Guillaume de Bailout; William of Billion; Wilhelm Balconies (FR) following autopsy of a seven year old boy described the false membrane covering the airway that characterizes diphtheria (1571).

John Fothergill (GB) described diphtheria (907).


Hieronymus Fabric us abs Aquapendente; Girolamo Fabrizio of Aquapendente; Jerome Fabricius of Acquapendente (IT) gave the first clear illustrations of the one-way valves in the veins of man in his book De Venarum Ostiolis (833). He had made the announcement at Padua in 1578-1579. See, Canano, 1541.

Guillaume de Baillou; William of Ballion; Wilhelm Ballonius (FR) described whooping cough in its first confirmed outbreak. The disease probably had existed prior to this time (643).


Plague in present in London


An influenza pandemic spreads from Europe to Asia to Africa (593).


Geronimo Mercuriali; Girolamo Mercuriali; Girolamo Mercuriale Girolamo Mercurialis; Hieronymus Mercurialis (IT) formulated the concept of syncope (fainting) and demonstrated its connection with a slow pulse rate: "Ubi pulsus sit rarus semper expectanda est syncope. [Whenever the pulse is rare, always a syncope has to be expected]." He distinguished between cardiac and nervous syncope noting that cardiac syncope could be life threatening (443, 1665). Ref incomplete

Julio Cesare Aranzio; Giulio Cesare Aranzi; Julius Caesar Arantius (IT) was the first to use a light source to visualize a cavity in the human body. To achieve this, he focused sunlight through a flask of water and projected it to visualize the nasal cavity (109).


Diphtheria is epidemic in Spain.

ca. 1583

Prospero Alpini (IT), while studying the date palm in Egypt, was the first person to realize that plants, like animals, can exist as male and female. He was the first European to describe the coffee plant, Coffea spp. (69). Linnaeus commemorated him with the genus Alpinia.


Andrea Cesalpino; Andreas Caesalpinus (IT) authored De Plantis (Concerning Plants) which marked the beginning of systematic botany. It presents plants for the first time arranged according to what are believed to be their natural affinities with primary emphasis placed on similarities of fruit, and seed. His use of characters such as position of ovary within a flower and the number of locules in an ovary profoundly influenced the thinking of later botanists (479). Cesalpino is commemorated by the genus Caesalpinia.

Felix Platter (CH) proposed that the retina, rather than the crystalline lens, is the true visual receptor of the eye. The lens serves only to focus the light (1908).

George Bartisch (DE) wrote Ophthalmodouleia, the first systematic work on ocular disease and ophthalmic surgery (188).


Scotland experiences the plague.


Salomon Alberti (DE) began public demonstrations of the venous valves in1579 and was the first to provide illustrations of these structures (45).

Ambroise Paré (FR) explained how to surgically remove a cancer from the lip (1847).


Arcangelo Piccolomini (IT) distinguished between cortex and white matter, described abdominal muscles, the termination of the acoustic nerve, the anastomoses of the fetal heart, and the differences between the male and female pelvis. He was the first anatomist after Salomon Alberti (DE) to describe the venous valves as a general phenomenon. Fabriici had announced their discovery at Padua in 1578-1579 (1894, 1897).

Marcello Donati (IT) was probably the first to record a case of gastric ulcer (760).


Abraham Ortelius; Abraham Oertel; Abraham Wortels (BE-NL), a cartographer, suggested the possibility of continental drift (1803).

Frank Bursley Taylor (US) developed the idea that the continents had once slid around. Taylor suggested that the crunching together of continents could have thrust up the world’s mountain chains (2391).

Alfred Lothar Wegener (DE) proposed that originally the continents had formed a single mass (Pangaea or All-Earth) surrounded by a continuous ocean (Panthalassa or All-Sea). This large granite mass broke into chunks that slowly separated, floating on a basalt ocean, and, over hundreds of millions of years, took up the pattern of the fragmented continents we now have. In this fashion Wegener undertook to explain the changing pattern of glaciations, for, of course, the relative positions of the poles with respect to the continents changed. He also used this hypothesis to explain patterns of species similarities; wherein related species were found in widely separated parts of the world, and so on. This represents an early expression of the concepts of continental drift and plate tectonics (2650, 2651).

Arthur Holmes (GB) suggested a mechanism that could explain Alfred Lothar Wegener's theory of continental drift, the power of convection. Heat from radioactive decay of elements in the interior of the Earth drives convection currents in the Earth's mantle. These convection currents could force the continents toward or away from one another, creating new ocean floor and building mountain ranges (1221).

Harry Hammond Hess (US) hypothesized that seafloor opens anew where continents move apart. In his model, the driving force is the constant upwelling of magma by thermal convection producing new mantle rock as it cools. Midocean ridges mark the line along which mantle up-flow diverges to flow horizontally away on either side. The upper surface of the advecting mantle flows is the seafloor. Continents floating in the mantle, go with the flow. Continents on either side of an oceanic ridge separate as the seafloor spreads between them (1182-1185).

Frederick J. Vine (GB) and Drummond H. Matthews (GB), using magnetic studies of the Atlantic Ocean floor, demonstrated conclusively that the seafloors are spreading in precisely the manner Hess had suggested and that the continents are also in motion (2561).

Lawrence Morley (CA) reached the same conclusions as Vine and Matthews but could not get his manuscript published.

Julio Cesare Aranzio; Giulio Cesare Aranzi; Julius Caesar Arantius (IT) discovered the musculus levator palpebrae superioris, the pedes hippocamp, the cerebellum cistern, the ammon horns, the fourth ventricle, the arterial duct (ductus arteriosus) as well as the ductus venosus (Arantii). Contrary to Vesalius he maintained the impermeability of the dividing walls of the heart. He also discovered that the blood of mother and fetus is kept separate during pregnancy. In 1564 he coined the term hippocampus to describe an intraventricular formation in the brain which had been previously outlined by Constanzio Varole in 1573 (105-111).


Giambattista della Porta (IT) in his Phytognomonica was the first to observe seeds (spores) in agarics and truffles (728).

Jacob Theodor von Bergzabern or Tabernaemontanus (DE) described a variegation pattern in kernels of Zea mays. The details of the report make it clear that the phenotypes described follow a Mendelian segregation. This could well be the first report describing the action of what would later be called a controlling element or transposon (1767, 2407). See, McClintock, 1947. He is commemorated in the pan-tropical genus of flowering shrubs and small trees Tabernaemontana.


José de Acosta (ES), a Jesuit missionary to South America, was the first to suggest that the original Americans had somehow migrated from Siberia many thousands of years ago (638).

ca. 1590

Plague (Yersinia pestis) sweeps many European cities again (1396).

Li Shi-Zhen (CN) produced an extensive work on medical treatments using both plant and animal materials. It was based on his own medical and herbal experience and on data from earlier herbals, such as the well-known 11th-century herbal, Zheng Lei Ben Cao. Li's herbal describes 1,892 drugs (with 1,110 drawings), including 11,096 prescriptions, for treating hundreds of illnesses, ranging from the common cold to drunkenness and food poisoning. He mentions a method of variolation for immunization against smallpox (red plague) (2250).


José de Acosta (ES) gives a vivid description of mountain sickness. “There is in Peru, a high mountaine which they call Pariacaca, and having heard speake of the alteration it bred, I went as well prepared as I could…. When I came to mount the degrees, as they call them, which is the top of this mountaine, I was suddenly surprized with so mortall and strange a payn, that I was ready to fall from the top to the ground…. I was surprised with such pangs of straining & casting, as I thought to cast up my heart too…. In the end I cast up blood, with the straining of my stomacke” (639). See, Too Kim, 50 B.C.E.


Smallpox (red plague) struck the Philippines for the first time, arriving on a Spanish ship from Mexico and spreading through the country with high mortality rates (1396).

A pandemic of the plague occurred.

Prospero Alpini (IT), who went to Cairo with the Venetian consul Giorgio Emo in 1580 and remained with him in Cairo for three years, described the extraction of urinary calculi by the Aegyptian physicians without incision. The usual method of removing stones from the urinary bladder was by median or lateral incision through the perineum.

The technique consisted essentially in a very considerable dilatation of the urethra.

One of the two methods described by Alpini is in brief as follows: "One uses several bougies of different size made of an elastic cartilaginous material. First the bougie with the smallest diameter is introduced into the urethra until it has reached the collum vesicae. Then by blowing into the bougie, it is dilated as much as possible and a larger one is introduced and likewise blown to a maximum diameter: a third and eventually a fourth still larger one may be added in the same way. The patient is placed in a convenient position and by introducing a finger into his anus; the stone is pushed towards the collum vesicae and into the internal opening of the largest bougie. Then by releasing the compressed air, the bougies retract, and when removed carry the stone with them. If it is a soft stone, it is occasionally broken. Experts in this way could remove stones of even the size of an olive (68).


One of the earliest outbreaks of measles among Native Americans in North America struck the Seneca Indians in Central New York State, and caused hundreds or maybe thousands of deaths (1396).


Plague is in London.


Thaddaeus Dunus of Locarno (CH) gave the first clear description of the broad or fish tapeworm, Diphyllobothrium latum. He called it Lumbricus latus (791).

Edward Tyson (GB) presented to the Royal Society of London a 24-foot Lumbricus latus he removed from a patient (2455, 2456).

Thomas Spencer Cobbold (GB) introduced the genus Diphyllobothrium in 1858 (527).

Constantine Janicki (CH) and Felix Rosen (CH) identified the copepod Cyclops streinuus as the first intermediate host of D. latum in European waters. They were able to complete the life cycle of this parasite (1323).


Andrea Cesalpino (IT) correctly deduced the direction of blood flow as shown in his book Medical Questions, where he says, “This is a fact well known by experience to those who let blood; for they place the ligature on the near side of the place of incision, not on the far side, because the veins swell on the far side, not on the near side of the ligature. But exactly the contrary ought to happen if the movement of the blood and the spirits took place in the direction from the viscera to all parts of the body. Thus there is a way of perpetual movement from vena cava, through the heart and lungs, into the aorta artery, as I have explained in my Peripatetic Questions” (478).


"O'er ladies' lips, who straight on kisses dream,

Which oft of the angry Mab with blisters plagues..." William Shakespeare (2238).Shakespeare was likely talking about the characteristic lesions caused by Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV-1), more commonly known as cold sores or fever blisters.

Richard Boulton (GB) introduced the terms Herpes Simplex, Herpes miliaris and Herpes exedens (333).

The first permanent anatomical theatre in Europe was built at Padua, Italy. It is still in existence today.


Dysentery (the "bloody flux") is common in England.


Guido Guidi; Guiliano Guido; Videus; Vidianus; Vidius; Vidus (IT-FR) described the nerve of the pterygoid (Vidian nerve) and its artery (Vidian artery) (1063). 


Gaspare Tagliacozzi (IT) wrote De Curtorum Chirurgia per Insitionem, an outstanding classic in reconstructive or plastic surgery. He described operations for the restoration of lost noses, lips, and ears. While he did not originate these operations—Hindu surgeons in ancient India performed such operations— he and his family brought them to a high level of perfection (2382). “We bring back, refashion, and restore to wholeness the features which nature gave but chance destroyed, not that they may charm the eye but that they may be an advantage to the living soul, not as a mean artifice but as an alleviation of illness, not as becomes charlatans but as becomes good physicians and followers of the great Hippocrates. For although the original beauty of the face is indeed restored, yet this is only accidental, and the end for which the physician is working is that the features should fulfill their offices according to nature's decree” (1010). Branca de Branca (IT) may deserve credit for originating this technique in 1442.

Karl Ferdinand von Graefe (DE) revived then modified the Italian (Tagliacozzi) method of rhinoplasty and introduced the Indian method in Germany. He coined the word rhinoplasty and reported the first truly successful case of blepharoplasty, which was performed in 1809 (2585). See, Susruta ca. 400.

Jonathan Mason Warren (US) performed the first operation for rhinoplasty in the United States (2644).


“There is a history in all men’s lives.” William Shakespeare, Second Part of King Henry IV, act III, scene i (2240).

"And so, from hour to hour, we ripe and ripe,

And then, from hour to hour, we rot and rot;

And thereby hangs a tale." William Shakespeare, As You Like It, act II, scene vii (2239).

Carlo Ruini (IT) wrote Anatomica del Cavallo, Infermità et Suoi Remedii the first great book on the anatomy and diseases of the horse; a book said to rival Vesalius’s work in precision and beauty. This is all the more remarkable since Ruini was a lawyer (2087).


Ulisse Aldrovandi (IT) began the publication of Ornithologiae, De Animalibus Insectis Libri Septem, De Piscibus, Serpentum, and De Quadropedibus Solidipedibus, large books containing descriptions and exceptional illustrations of various animals (51-55).

ca. 1600

Members of the first Academia dei Lincei, a scientific society that included Galileo Galilei coined the word microscope (2047).


William Gilbert (GB), an Elizabethan physician and experimenter on electricity, wrote the first great scientific book by an Englishman. From his experiments he concluded that the earth behaves as an immense magnet. Gilbert also discussed the medicinal power of iron (993).

Giulio Cesare Casseri; Julius Cesare Casserius (IT) wrote De Vocis Auditusque Organis Historia Anatomica, considered by some to be the most beautiful book ever published on the ear and throat. The illustrations are in copper plate engraving and are thought to be by the German artist, Joseph Maurer. Casserius described the muscles of the ossicles of the ear, the musculocutaneous nerve and the larynx (462).


Carolus Clusius; Charles de L’Écluse; Carlus Clusius; Jules-Charles L'Écluse (FR-DE-NL) produced Rariorum Plantarum Historia containing the descriptions of many native and ornamental plants of Spain, Austria, the Netherlands, and Belgium. This book contained an index Fungorum Historia in which more than 100 fungi are described (523). In Leiden he planned and established the later famed botanical garden. He is credited with introducing the tulip into the Netherlands and the potato from the Americas into Europe.

Giulio Cesare Casseri; Giulio Cesare Casserio; Julius Cesare Casserius (IT), was assistant to Girolamo Fabrizio (IT). Recognized for his skill as a dissectionist, anatomist, and lecturer he illustrated for the first time the urachus, the lateral umbilical ligaments, the inguinal fossa, the peritoneum (shown detached from the abdominal wall), mammillary bodies (nipples), and the tarsal gland of the eyelid (459).


Hieronymous Fabricius ab Aquapendente; Girolamo Fabrizio of Aquapendente; Jerome Fabricius of Acquapendente (IT) was the first to explain and depict with thorough understanding the placenta and the fetal membranes of mammals. In the first examples of comparative embryology he compared the embryonic development of the chicken, man, rabbit, guinea-pig, mouse, dog, cat, sheep, pig, horse, ox, goat, deer, dog-fish, and the viper in his two books De Formatione Ovi et Pulli and De Formato Foetu, published in 1603. The work on the chicken contains the best description of the reproductive tract of the hen up to that time. Fabricius discovered the bursa now called bursa of Fabricius and was the first to establish with any degree of accuracy the role played by the ovary and oviduct in the formation of the hen's egg. He was the first to describe the germinal disc distinctly (832, 834). Fabricius was an outstanding surgeon who re-introduced tracheotomy and improved herniotomy.

Four young noblemen led by the Roman Prince Federico Cesi founded Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei.


Zaccharias Janssen; Sacharias Janssen; Zaccharias Jansen (NL), an optician and counterfeiter by trade, may have invented the compound microscope. He combined two convex lenses within a tube, thus constructing the forerunner of the compound microscope. His intention was to construct a telescope. Janssen has been falsely credited with the invention of the telescope (721, 1112).

Johannes Kepler (DE) established the fundamental principles of the visual process that are still valid today. Kepler described for the first time the pupillary contraction that accompanies visual accommodation, and he corrected older statements about the size of the visual angle. He set forth for the first time, a correct account of how the light rays penetrate through the crystalline lens and reach the retina. Kepler also correctly postulated that the retina is the real organ of vision. On its surface, an inverted image of the contemplated object appears, point by point. Kepler explained the effect of glasses both in nearsightedness and presbyopia, depicting the directions that the rays of light followed through the lenses. He realized that the image of an object would remain out of focus until the rays could converge on the surface of the retina (1363-1365). Benedetto Castelli (IT) made the same observation in 1639 (464).

Christoph Scheiner (Swabian) confirmed Kepler’s thesis when he observed the sharp and inverted image of an object on the retina of an enucleated animal and human eye. Scheiner described the lateral emergence of the ocular nerves from the eyeball and the eye’s convergence. He also demonstrated that the refractive conditions in the eye varied through accommodation for distant or near vision (2158).

Gaspard Caspar Bauhin; Gaspard Casparus Bauhinus; Gaspard Kaspar Bauhin (CH) was an important botanist and anatomist. He discovered the ileo-cecal valve named for him and correctly explained its function of preventing the intestinal contents from coming back from the colon to the small intestine (199, 200, 202).

ca. 1605

Francis Bacon, a philosopher and Lord Chancellor of England, popularized the scientific method and thus lead a scientific revolution. One should begin with data, not faith, and then propose a testable hypothesis to explain those facts. This method of reasoning from the particulars to the general is known as induction. He emphasized the importance of experimentation as a way of testing ideas. Bacon also warned that to achieve accurate thinking we must guard against belief systems (Idols) common in or culture. He characterized the idols as: the Idol of the Tribe (community beliefs), the Cave (individual beliefs), the Marketplace (semantic communication problems), and the Theatre (deduction from believed but unproven premises) (146-148).

Using his powerful inductive powers Bacon arrived at an explanation of the nature of heat. For his time this was a remarkable feat of reasoning since there was not enough data available during Bacon’s time to allow him to reach such a conclusion. Here we have the combination of a remarkable intellect using logic and a good guess to arrive at the correct answer; I include it here.

“From instances taken collectively, as well as singly, the nature whose limit is heat appears to be motion. This is chiefly exhibited in flame, which is in constant motion, and in warm or boiling liquids, which are likewise in constant motion. It is also show in the excitement or increase of heat by motion and by bellows and draughts… It is also shown by the extinction of fire and heat upon any strong pressure, which restrains and puts a stop to motion… (thus is with tender, or the burning stuff of a candle or lamp, or even hot charcoal cinders, for when they are squeezed with snuffers, or the foot, and the like, the effect of the fire instantly ceases)… It is further shown by this circumstance, namely, that every substance is destroyed, or at least materially changed, by strong and powerful heat: whence it is clear that tumult and confusion are occasioned by heat, together with a violent motion in the internal parts of bodies, and this gradually tends to their dissolution… It must not be thought that heat generates motion, or motion heat, (though in some respects this is true) but that the very essence of heat… is motion and nothing else” (148).

Adriaan van de Spiegel; Adriaan van de Spigelius (NL) published the first instructions on making dried herbarium specimens (2481). Spigelia marilandica a plant of the family Loganiacae was named in his honor.

Hieronymus Fabricius ab Aquapendente; Girolamo Fabrizio of Aquapendente; Jerome Fabricius of Acquapendente (IT) is credited with describing situs inversus viscerum in humans. The internal organs are on the opposite side from usual (518).

Marco Aurelio Severino (IT), in 1643, described dextrocardia, in which the heart is located on the right side of the thorax (518, 2233).

Matthew Baillie (GB) gave the first description of transposition of the great arteries (518). Other terms associated with this syndrome are situs inversus totalis, situs inversus with dextrocardia, situs inversus with levocardia, mirror image of situs solitus, mirror-image organs, situs solitus, situs ambiguous, Kartagener syndrome, Kartagener's syndrome.



Is this the man? Is’t you, sir, that knows things?


In nature’s infinite book of secrecy, a little I can read.” William Shakespeare. Antony and Cleopatra, act I, scene ii (2074)

John Harington (GB), wit, courtier, master of horse, poet, translator of the School of Salerne (Salerno), and godson of Queen Elizabeth I was the inventor of the water closet (1572).

Flax, especially prized during the time of the American Revolution, was a staple of life throughout the 18th century and later. The first American sailing ships–Discovery, Susan Constant, and Godspeed–that cruised up the James River in Virginia in 1607, as well as the Mayflower in Massachusetts, and, indeed, vessels from all over the world in past centuries, had elaborate sails made from the plant known as flax, Linum usitatissumum. The process of making linen materials, such as sails, from the flax plant depends upon two bacteria, Clostridium felsineum and Clostridium pectionvorum. Early American shipbuilders would have been hard pressed to find an acceptable sail material if there had not been microbial activity for the proper flax processing. The fibers of the flax plant were also employed to make blankets, handkerchiefs, paper, and clothing. In very moist environments bacteria would digest away much of the pectin thereby loosening the fibers of flax, which were then peeled away and spun into linen or used in other products.


“Pursue him to his house, and pluck him thence;

Lest his infection, being of catching nature,

Spread further.” William Shakespeare. Coriolanus, act III, scene i (2074)

Hans Lippershay; Hans Lipperhey (NL), on October 2, 1608 applied to Count Maurice of Nassau for a patent on a device to make distant objects seem clear (a telescope) (1693).

Jacob Metiús (NL) applied for a patent only weeks after Lippershay. Albert van Helden (NL) credits Metiús with the invention of the telescope (2488).

Pierre Borel (FR) cites Sacharias Janssen (Zacharias Janssen) as the first inventor of the telescope (1590) and Hans Lippershay as its second inventor (322).


Felix Plater (CH) was the first to recognize Diphyllobothrium (fish tape worm) as being distinct from Taenia. He also provided the first descriptions of the disease (1906).

Charles Bonnet (CH) was the first to accurately describe the proglottids of Diphyllobothrium, but, unfortunately, the worm he illustrated had a Taenia scolex, a mistake he remedied in 1777 (317, 319).

Peter Christian Abildgaard (DK) observed that the intestine of sticklebacks often contained worms that resembled the tapeworms found in fish-eating birds. This represents the first clue that some parasites pass different parts of their life cycle in different hosts (23).

Pierre-Joseph van Bénéden (BE) was able to show through his studies of the digestive tracts of many fishes that organisms known, as cysticerci were larvae of intestinal worms then called taenia (adult tapeworms). His work covered a wide range of parasites in diverse animals (2479).

Maximillian Gustav Christian Carl Braun (DE) realized that the unsegmented tapeworms common in pike and other fish are the larval stages of Diphyllobothrium latum and succeeded in infecting dogs with these plerocercoids; in 1882 he achieved similar results in humans (364).

Constantine Janicki (PL) and Felix Rosen (PL) incriminated copepods in the Diphyllobothrium life cycle and showed that they feed on the eggs of the tapeworm and are then eaten by fish, which, in their turn, are eaten by humans (1324).

Jacques Guillemeau (FR) is credited with originating the classical method of assisted breech delivery. The after-coming head is delivered with the child resting on the physicians forearm: Straddling the baby over the right arm, the index finger of that hand is introduced into the mouth of the child and applied over the maxilla: two fingers of the other hand are then hooked over the neck, grasping the shoulders. Downward traction is made until the occiput appears under the symphysis pubis. The body of the child is then raised up toward the mother’s abdomen and the mouth, nose, brow, and occiput are successively brought over the perineum. This maneuver was of great importance before the forceps and Caesarean section. It is referred to by many names including the Mauriceau-Levret manipulation (1066). Guillemeau was also the first to employ podalic (feet-first) delivery in placenta praevia.


Smallpox (red plague) is reported in Scotland and England.


Johannes Kepler (DE), a mathematician and astronomer, invented a microscope with double convex lenses (1364). See, Pierre Borel, 1608.

Caspar Bartholin (BK) was the first to describe the workings of the olfactory nerve (179).

Mateo Alemán (ES), in 1611, may have written the first true description of amoebiasis when he described the case of Fray García Guerra, Archbishop of Mexico and Viceroy of the New Spain. The patient developed diarrhea followed a few days later by hepatic suppuration (2560).

Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (NL), born Thonis Philipszoon, in his 34th letter to the Royal Society of London, dated 4 November 1861 described examining human feces and discovering what were surely spirochetes. He also described Giardia (Jee-ardia) from his own feces and records symptoms of giardiasis (2194).

Johann Künstler (DE) named a parasite of tadpoles Giardia agilis, after the French zoologist Alfred Mathieu Giard (1419).

Vilém Dusan Lambl (CZ) identified the parasite responsible for amoebiac dysentery, naming it Cercomonas intestinalis (1431, 2603).

William Thomas Councilman (US) and Henri Amadée Lafleur (US) clearly distinguished between bacillary and amoebic dysenteries (566).

Leslie L. Lumsden (US), Charles Wardell Stiles (US), and Allen W. Freeman (US) renamed it Giardia lamblia, in honor of Alfred Mathieu Giard (FR) and Vilém Dusan Lambl (CZ) (1150, 1547). However, Giardia intestinalis is considered by many to be the correct name for this protozoan.

Harold B. Fantham (GB) and Annie Porter (GB) found that during WW I soldiers with diarrhea passed Giardia cysts, which could cause similar symptoms when administered to laboratory animals (841).

Clifford Dobell (GB) suggested that Giardia is a pathogen (750).

Reginald Miller (GB) conclusively showed that some children infected with Giardia did suffer from malabsorption whereas others acted as unaffected carriers (1680).

Charles Wardell Stiles (US) began to suspect that there was a causal relationship between the presence of Giardia and diarrhea (2337). 

Robert C. Rendtorff (US) produced unambiguous evidence linking the Giardia parasite with diarrhea (2018).

Guillaume de Baillou; William of Ballion; Wilhelm Ballonius (FR), in 1611, provided one of the best early descriptions of rheumatism as arthritis (641).

Guillaume de Baillou; William of Ballion; Wilhelm Ballonius (FR) gave a clinical description of rheumatoid arthritis in adults and coined the word rheumatism to describe clinical manifestations of muscular pain and acute rheumatic fever (642).

Augustin Jacob Landré-Beauvais (FR), in 1800, was the first to clearly describe rheumatoid arthritis, calling it primary asthenic gout (1436, 1437).

Alfred Baring Garrod (GB), in 1858, coined the term rheumatoid arthritis (971).


Santorio Santorio; Santorio Santorii; Sanctorius of Padua (IT) was the first to modify the thermometer (air thermometer invented by Galileo) into a clinical instrument to measure human body temperature. He devised a pulse clock using a pendulum to make the first quantitative measurements of pulse rate. By careful weighing of the human body he was the first to prove that humans loose weight by the evaporation of perspiration off their bodies (2121-2123, 2255).

Felix Platter (CH) provided the first account of a meningioma: “There was discovered on [the corpus callosum] the brain a remarkable round fleshy tumor like an acorn. It was hard and full of holes and was as large as a medium-sized apple. It was covered with its own membrane and was entwined with veins…. We perceived that this ball by compressing the brain and its ducts with its mass and by flooding them, had been the occasion of the lethargy and listlessness and finally of death” (1909).


“It is clear from a churchman who has been elevated to a very eminent position that the Holy Spirit’s intention is to teach us how to go to Heaven, and not how the heavens go.” Galileo Galilei. This statement is contained in a Letter to Madame Christine of Lorraine, Grand Duchess of Tuscany, in 1615 (964). It is commonly held that Cesare Baronio (Cardinal Caesar Baronius) is the person from whom Galileo directly heard these words.

Giulio Cesare Vanini (IT) published two books, Amphitheatrum Aeternae Providentiae Divino-magicum. Christiano-physicum, nec non Astrologo-Catholicum. Aversus Veteres Philosophos and De Admirandis Naturae Reginae Deaeque Mortalium Arcanis. It was for these two books, especially the second, that he was condemned and forced to flee Paris, and for opinions like those in the second that he was then executed in 1619. On the basis of these works Vanini can be seen as one of the first who began to treat nature as a machine governed by laws (2540, 2541).


Fabius Columna; Fabio Colonna (IT) authored Ecphrasis in which he described, drew, and systematically arranged 210 species of plants (538).


A smallpox (red plague) outbreak killed 90% of the Massachusetts Bay Indians, probably introduced from fishing boats that visited the coast before there was a permanent English settlement there. The few remaining natives were weakened, and were unable to resist the landing of the Mayflower settlers at Plymouth in 1620 (1396).


John Woodall (GB), first surgeon-general to the East India Company, anticipated modern knowledge of the properties of vitamin C in regard to scurvy, a condition due to vitamin C deficiency and the scourge of sailors for generations. At sea, he states that experience shows that "the Lemmons, Limes, Tamarinds, Oranges, and other choice of good helps in the Indies... do farre exceed any that can be carried tither from England" (2735).

Johann Georg Heinrich Kramer (AT-HU), in 1720 and 1737, observed a scurvy-fruit/vegetables link (correlation). Soldiers who ate fresh fruit and vegetables generally did not get scurvy; those who did not, generally speaking, got it (1505).

James Lind (GB) while in medical school at Edinburgh treated scurvy-ridden sailors with various diets and discovered that citrus fruits cured the disease (1505, 2334).

In 1795, lime and lemon juice were introduced into the British navy rations to control scurvy (421).

Theobald Smith (US) was the first to experimentally induce scurvy in animals (guinea pigs). He did so accidentally while studying bacterial infections of swine and apparently did not associate the symptoms with scurvy (2265).

Axel Holst (NO) and Theodor Fröhlich (NO) made a thorough and careful study of diet as a factor in inducing scurvy in guinea pigs. They found that supplements of fruits, fresh vegetables, or their juices to a diet of grain protected the animals against scurvy but if these antiscorbutic foods were dried or heated at 100°C for 30 minutes to an hour they lost their effectiveness. They also determined that while dried oats, barley (Hordeum vulgare), peas, beans (Phaseolus vulgaris), or lentils gave no protection they acquired protective powers when allowed to germinate before consumption (1226, 1227).

John H. Crandon (US), Charles C. Lund (US), and David Bruce Dill (US) experimentally induced scurvy in a human. The results laid the groundwork for our understanding of the biochemical and histologic changes in human scurvy (576). Stark (GB) had attempted to induce the disease in himself at an earlier date but unfortunately died of secondary complications (768).


The period of the Thirty Years War in Germany was marked by repeated epidemics, including typhus, plague (Yersinia pestis), and dysentery (the "bloody flux") that spread to other European countries (1396).


Italy was swept by outbreaks of diphtheria (1396).


Fabrizio Bartoletti; Fabrizio Bertoletti; Fabrizio Bartholet; Fabrizio Barthold (IT) described the sugar of milk (lactose) (189, 2421).

Rembert Dodoens; Robert Dodonäeus (BE) in referring to foxglove wrote, “ for those who have water in the belly…it draws off the watery fluid, purifies the choleric fluid, and opens the obstruction" (754).

William Withering (GB) wrote An Account of the Foxglove and Some of its Medical Uses in which he recounted obtaining the recipe for a home remedy for dropsy (edema) from old women in Shropshire and realizing that Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) was the active ingredient. In the book, he reports on a decade of observations and experience with digitalis purpurea on numerous dropsy patients (2721, 2722). Digitalis from Foxglove remains a very important drug in the treatment of cardiac disease. L’Heritier (FR) honored him with the plant genus Witheringia.

John Ferriar (GB) wrote in detail about the diuretic effects of digitalis (859).

Augustine-Eugene Hormolle (FR) successfully isolated digitalin, a digitalis glycoside (1245).

Claude-Adolphe Nativelle (FR) isolated from Digitalis lanata (foxglove) a crystallized version of digitalis and named it digitaline (digitalin with digitoxin) (1752).

Johann Ernst Oswald Schmiedeberg (RU-DE) arrived at the conclusion that Nativelle’s preparations were composed mainly of the following principles which he named: Digitonin, digitoxin, digitalin, and digitalein. The first is an inactive glucoside, while the three others have the property of acting upon the heart, digitoxin possessing this power in a most pronounced degree (2172).

James MacKenzie (GB) and Thomas Lewis (GB) discovered the role of digitoxin in treating supraventricular arrhythmias when they realized that it caused a reduction in the transmission of electrical impulses from the atria to the ventricles (1497, 1558, 1658).

Sydney Smith (GB) isolated the active glycoside named digoxin (Lanoxin) from the Balkan or woolly foxglove Digitalis lanata (2264).

Digitalis glycosides bind specifically to Na+/K+-ATPase, inhibit its enzymatic activity, and impair the active transport of extruding sodium and transport of potassium into the fibers (3:2 ratio).

Daniel Sennert (DE), in 1619, first described rubella, which means “little red” due to the rash that is a symptom. He called it röteln (2221).

Friedrich Hoffmann (DE) provided the first clinical description of rubella (1215, 1216).

William George de Maton (GB) recognized rubella (German measles) when he described “a rash liable to be mistaken for scarlatina.” He suggested that rubella be recognized as a distinct clinical entity (693).

Henry Veale (GB) coined the name rubella, meaning little red, for the clinical syndrome associated with a maculopapular rash of children and young adults in India (2550). Rubella is frequently called "German measles" and is the third of six viral exanthems of childhood, with measles and scarlet fever being the first and second.

Alfred Fabian Hess (US) provided experimental evidence suggesting that a virus causes rubella (1181).

Y. Hiro (JP) and S. Tosaka (JP) confirmed the viral origin of rubella by passing the disease to nonimmune children using filtered nasal washings (1207).

Norman McAlister Gregg (AU) discovered that in humans the occurrence of rubella in the early stages of pregnancy has profound teratogenic effects on the fetus in utero and under these conditions can produce a variety of congenital malformations (1044).

Charles Swan (AU) and Alfred L. Tostevin (AU), authorized by the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia, confirmed Gregg’s findings in 1946 (2365).

Paul D. Parkman (US), Edward L. Buescher (US), Malcolm S. Artenstein (US), Thomas Huckle Weller (US), Franklin A. Neva (US), John Louis Sever (US), Gilbert M. Schiff (US), and RenBe G. Traub (US) successfully isolated rubella (German measles) virus from army recruits (1850, 2231, 2665).

In 1969 a live attenuated rubella vaccine was licensed, then in the early 1970s, a triple vaccine containing attenuated measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) viruses was introduced (131, 1136).

ca. 1620

Marco Aurelio Severino (IT) developed treatments for abscesses and was performing resections of the ribs (2235).


Deacon Dr. Samuel Fuller (GB-US), who arrived on the Mayflower, was the first non-native person in North America to work as a physician. There is no record of his medical training (1572).


Lazare Rivière; Lazarus Riverius; Lazari Riverii (FR) wrote a textbook in which he described impairments on consciousness. He was the first to note aortic stenosis (1646) (2040).


Joachim Jungius (DE) created the first nature-searching society, Societas sive Zetetica, at Rostock, Germany.


Purpuric fever was common within England. The specific cause of this disease is unknown.


“[The universe] cannot be read until we have learnt the language and become familiar with the characters in which it is written. It is written in mathematical language, and the letters are triangles, circles and other geometrical figures, without which means it is humanly impossible to comprehend a single word.” Galileo Galilei (961)

Gaspard Caspar Bauhin (CH), in a work which delt with over 6000 different plants, was the first to introduce some degree of order into the chaotic muddle of nomenclature and synonymy in the botanical sciences (201). 

Aleixo de Abreu (PT) wrote the first text on tropical medicine. In it he describes, among other things, scurvy, yellow fever, the Guinea worm (Dracunculus medinensis), and liver involvement in his amoebiasis (637).

Colin Chisholm (GB), in 1795, may have been the first to observe the mode of transmission of the Guinea worm, Dracunculus medinensis, which he found in the water supply on the island of Granada and which differed from any animalcule hitherto described. He advanced the theory that the disease was carried from Africa to America by a slave ship, the Hankey (499).

Karl Asmund Rudolphi (SE-DE), in 1819, discovered adult female Dracunculus medinensis worms containing larvae (2079).

Alexei Pavlovich Fedchenko (RU), in 1869, elaborated the whole life cycle of Dracunculus medinensis, (Guinea worm or Medina worm) the parasite of dracontiasis, including the stages in the crustacean intermediate host (846, 847).

Robert Thompson Leiper (GB), in 1907, determined the complete life cycle of Dracunculus (the Guinea worm) (1481).

Dyneshvar Atmaran Turkhud (IN), in 1914, succeeded in infecting human volunteers with Dracunculus medinensis by using infected cyclops (2451).


Bubonic plague (Yersinia pestis) spread through France. Probably the worst single outbreak was in Lyon in 1628 (1396).


Giovanni Fabri (IT) is reported to be the first to have used the word microscope. It was in a letter to Federico Cesi (IT) (1032).

Federico Cesi (IT) presented some of the first images generated through the microscope. They are microscopic observations of bees carried out by members of the Accademia dei Lincei (480).

Giovanni Battista Cortesi; Cortesius of Messina (IT) recorded the remarkable case of the Warden of St. Francis, who, suffering from a severe inflammation of the throat, complained of a foul breath. To make sure that he was not merely imagining the odor, he asked a friend to smell the exhalations from his mouth. Shortly thereafter the friend came down with the illness and died of suffocation on the fourth day. “From this instance,” wrote Cortesius, “I have come to the conclusion that the disease is more or less contagious” (556). There is good reason to believe that the Warden had diphtheria.

London experienced a high mortality from the plague.


Gasparo Aselli; Gasparo Asellio (IT), while examining the mesentery of a dissected dog, discovered the mesenteric chyle vessels (lacteals)—he called them venae albae et lacteae ("white and lacteal veins")— but did not understand their significance in the circulatory system (124, 906). The discovery took place in 1622. See, Olof Rudbeck, 1652.

Adriaan van de Spiegel; Adrianus Spigelius (BE-IT), in his De Humani Corporis Fabrica, described the caudate lobe of the liver known today as the Spiegelian lobe (2482).

Giulio Cesare Casseri; Giulio Cesare Casserio; Julius Cesare Casserius (IT), described the circle of arteries at the base of the brain which would later be called the Circle of Willis (461).


Smallpox (red plague) is epidemic in London.


“Search out and study the secrets of Nature by way of experiment.” William Harvey (1116)

“For a long time I turned over in my mind such questions as, how much blood is transmitted, and how short a time does its passage take. Not deeming it possible for the digested food mass to furnish such an abundance of blood, without totally draining the veins or rupturing the arteries, unless it somehow got back to the veins from the arteries and returned to the right ventricle of the heart, I began to think there was a sort of motion as in a circle. This I afterwards found true.” William Harvey (1116) Harvey never observed capillaries although he tried; this would come in 1688. 

“Blood passes through the lungs and heart by the action of the [auricles and] ventricles, and is sent for distribution to all parts of the body, where it makes its way into the veins and pores of the flesh, and then flows by the veins from the circumference on every side to the centre, from the lesser to the greater veins, and is by them finally discharged into the vena cava and right auricle of the heart…in such a quantity…as cannot…be supplied by the ingesta…. It is necessary to conclude that the blood…is impelled in a circle…in a state of ceaseless motion…and that is the sole…end of the motion and contraction of the heart.” William Harvey (1116)

William Harvey (GB) through actual dissection, emphasized that the valves separating the two upper chambers of the heart from the two lower chambers of the heart are one-way valves; blood can go from auricle to ventricle but not vice versa.

By tying off selected arteries and veins he proved that blood flows away from the heart in arteries and toward the heart in veins. He calculated that every hour the heart pumped out a quantity of blood that is three times the weight of a man. It was inconceivable that blood could be formed and broken down at this rate—as the ancients thought. The inescapable conclusion was that blood circulates from heart to arteries to veins and back to the heart (1116, 1121). He guessed that extremely fine vessels must connect arteries to veins (capillaries) but these were to small for him to see without a microscope. See, Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (NL), 1688.

“It was because of Harvey, and his experiments, that people came to realize that, in fact, it was the blood which played the prime role in physiology. This change in perspective created modern medicine. Without it we would have no understanding of respiration, gland secretion (as with hormones) or chemical changes in tissues” (2646). 

William Harvey (GB) was most probably the first to record atrial fibrillation in humans when he noted, “…but I have noticed that after the heart proper, and even the right auricle were ceasing to beat and appeared on the point of death, an obscure movement undulation or palpitation had clearly continued in the right auricular blood itself for as long as the blood was perceptibly imbued with warmth and spirit” (1116).


Plague is present in London.


Jakob de Bondt; Jacobus Bontius (NL) went to Java and in the four short years before his death sent back a wealth of information about the East Indies. His posthumous works include the first description of beri-beri in European medical literature, and descriptions of animals and plants unknown in Europe.

He relates, “The inhabitants of the East Indies are much afflicted with a troublesome disorder which they call the Beriberii (a word signifying a sheep). The disease has, probably, received this denomination on account that those who are seized with it, exhibit a tottering of the knees, and a peculiar manner of walking which resembles to a fancy the gait of that animal” (647, 648). This book was published many years after the author’s death.


Jean Rey (FR) was the first to prove that metals increase in weight on calcination (oxidation). He attributed these gains in weight to the union of metals with the air (2026, 2027).

Rey also gave the thermometer its modern form, though in a crude state. He called it a thermoscope (2028).

Aulus Persius Flaccus (IT), Dichter Roimisches Reich (IT), Francesco Stelluti (IT), and Naturforscher (IT) wrote the first book to contain illustrations of objects viewed through the microscope. Stelluti was a friend of Galileo and founding member of the Accademia dei Lincei (872).

Daniel Sennert (DE) was the first to give a description of the scarlet fever. He was the first to mention the scarlatinal desquamation, the early arthritis, and post-scarlatinal dropsy, but did not mention the sore throat (2222).

Thomas Sydenham (GB) would later give a more detailed and accurate description of the scarlet fever. See, Sydenham, 1769.


John Gerard (GB), Thomas Johnson (GB), Robert Priest (GB), Robert Davyes (GB), and Rembert Dodoens (BE) published Gerard's Herball or General Historie of Plants. Gerard had by this time became caretaker of the physic garden (medical plants of the College of Physicians of London) (981). 

Smallpox (red plague) again struck the Indians in Massachusetts, probably brought on arriving ships of settlers. At least 15 children died on incoming ships, as well as about 20 colonists already resident (1396).

ca. 1634

Johann Rudolph Glauber (DE-NL) reported heating wood in a closed retort and collecting the volatile products as distillate. The products included acetic acid, acetone, and wood alcohol (methanol) (1003).


The Musaeum Tradescantianum was the first museum open to the public to be established in England. Located in Vauxhall in south London, it comprised a collection of curiosities assembled by John Tradescant the elder and his son in a building called The Ark, and a botanical collection in the grounds of the building.

Tradescant divided the exhibits into natural objects (naturalia) and manmade objects (artificialia). The first account of the collection, by Peter Mundy, is from 1634. At this time the collection was already quite large. After the death of the elder Tradescant and his wife, the collection passed into the hands of the wealthy collector Elias Ashmole who in 1691 gave it to Oxford University as the nucleus of the newly founded Ashmolean Museum, the world's first university museum.

Dutch traders introduced a catastrophic smallpox (red plague) epidemic into Connecticut. It killed 95% of the Indians along the Connecticut River, and spread north into Canada. The English settlers were mostly immune, having had the disease as children themselves, but attributed their escape, and the Indians' death, to God's will. The elimination of the natives in the Connecticut valley opened up that area to settlement (1396).

Smallpox (red plague) is epidemic in London.


In 1636, Harvard University, the oldest university in the United States of America, was founded. The Medical Institution of Harvard University was added, in 1783, with three faculty members: Dr. John Warren (US), Dr. Benjamin Waterhouse (US), and Dr. Aaron Dexter (US) (1572).


René Descartes (FR) within his Discourse on Method, Optics, Geometry, and Meteorology explained his principles of investigation: “The first of these was to accept nothing as true which I did not clearly recognize to be so: that is to say, carefully to avoid precipitation and prejudice in judgments and to accept in them nothing more than what was presented to my mind so clearly and distinctly that I could have no occasion to doubt it. 

The second was to divide up each of the difficulties which I examined into as many parts as possible, and as seemed requisite in order that it might be resolved in the best manner possible. 

The third was to carry on my reflections into order, commencing with objects that were the more simple and easy to understand, in order to rise little by little, or by degrees, to knowledge of the most complex assuming order, even it be a fictitious one, among those which do not follow a natural sequence relatively to one another.

The last was in all cases to make enumerations so complete and reviews so general that I should be certain of having omitted nothing.”

Included within one of the Essays is La Dioptrique, the first publication of the “Law of Refraction”, in which he demonstrates the rectilinear transmission of light and compares the human eye to a camera Rene Descartes (734, 736, 738).


Galileo Galilei (IT) worked out the isochronism of the pendulum in the Cathedral of Pisa using his pulse (962, 963).

The Countess of Chinchon (ES), wife of the Viceroy of Peru, was cured of a fever (malaria; the ague) by powdered quinquina (cinchona) bark, a native remedy. She returned to Spain in 1641 with a supply of quinquina bark, which became known in Europe as the Countess’s powder. Later it was imported in large quantities by the Jesuits and became known as Jesuit’s bark. The tree was described in 1738 and given the genus name Chinchona in honor of the Countess.

Juan del Vego (ES), physician to the countess, in 1641, was the first European to employ the tincture of the cinchona bark, containing quinidine, for treating malaria (the ague). The aborigines of Peru and Ecuador had been using it for treating fevers since before recorded time (237, 1496).

Hermann van der Heyden (BE) authored Discours et Advis sur les Flus de Ventre Doloureux. It contains the first European medical reference to cinchona bark (Peruvian bark) for treating malaria (the ague) (2485). This remedy was also known as quina bark (contains quinine) and later as the Countesse’s powder and Jesuit’s bark.

Nicolas de Blégny (FR) and John Talbor (GB) popularized a treatment for malaria, the ague in England and France. Tabor became wealthy and famous yet refused to divulge his formula for financial and religious/political reasons. At that time anything associated with the Catholic Church was out of favor in England. Talbor’s treatment was nothing more than the hated Jesuit’s Powder (ground cinchona bark containing quinine) which the catholic church had been shipping from South America and Cardinal John de Lugo had tried in vain to persuade Europe to accept (646, 2392).

Richard Morton (GB), in 1696, presented the first detailed description of the clinical picture of malaria (the ague) and its treatment with cinchona (1720).

Francisci Torti (IT), in 1732, established the specific nature of cinchona bark (contains quinine). His demonstration of its effectiveness in treating periodic over continuous fevers finally overthrew the doctrine of the common origin of all fevers. He is also credited with the introduction of the term malaria (bad air) (2433).

Hipólito Ruiz (ES), in 1792, described seven species of cinchona and praised the medicinal qualities of a quina extract that he had developed (contains quinine) (2088).

Bernardino Antonio Gomes (PT) reported that the bark of grey quinquina (Cinchona condaminea) from Loxa (Loja, Ecuador) contained a crystalline principle that he named cinchonine but did not notice its main property, alkalinity (1020). 

Pierre-Joseph Pelletier (FR) and Joseph-Bienaimé Caventou (FR) isolated the alkaloid quinine (1869, 1870).

Peter Muehlens (DE) synthesized plasmochin (plasmoquine), the first drug to be synthesized with a marked activity against human malaria parasites (1729). 

Ernest Francois Auguste Fourneau (FR), Jacques Gustave Marie Tréfouel (FR), G. Stefanopuolo (FR), Yvonne de Lestrange (FR), K.L. Melville (FR), M. Tréfouel (FR), Daniel Bovet (FR), Germaine Benoit (FR), Onisim Yul'yevich Magidson (RU), and I.T. Strukov (RU) synthesized plasmocid (Fourneau 710), an active antimalarial drug (920, 1497, 1568).

Hans Mauss (DE) and Fritz Mietzch (DE), in 1931, synthesized the antimalarial drug mepacrine hydrochloride (quinacrine hydrochloride, Atabrine quinacrine, mepacrine, atebrin, chinacrin, erion, acriquine, acrichine, palacrin, metoquin, halchin) (1628). It was marketed in 1932.

Hans Andersag (DE), in 1934, synthesized resochin (chloroquine) (83). 

Frank Henry Swinton Curd (GB), D.G. Davey (GB), and Francis Leslie Rose (GB) synthesized proguanil (paludrine) in 1944. This drug has low toxicity and high activity against falciparum malaria. They first tested proguanil against avian malaria in 1945 (594, 2064).

M.B. Braude (RU) and V.I. Stavrovskaya (RU) synthesized quinocide in 1945 (363).

Neil Hamilton Fairley (AU) proved that one tablet of Atabrine (100 mg.) a day would prevent overt attacks of malaria (the ague), curing those cases due to Plasmodium falciparum and postponing clinical manifestations of P. vivax infections until the drug was withheld (837).


Guillaume de Baillou; William of Ballion; Wilhelm Ballonius (FR) wrote, Epidemiorum et Ephemeridum Libri Duo, the first modern book on epidemiology and the first since Hippocrates. It contains the first detailed description of whooping cough as a distinct entity (640).


Nicolaas Tulp; Nicholas Tulpius; Nicolaes Tulp; Claes Pieters; Nicolaus Petrejus; Nicholaus Petrus (NL) wrote, Observationes Medicae, one of the best medical books of the period. It contained many pathological findings and records of post-mortem examinations. It described and pictured the ileocecal valve, still known as Tulp’s valve, and discussed kidney stones, tapeworms, diphtheria, bronchial casts, pulsation of the spleen, and beri-beri (2447). Tulp described the first of the great apes (a chimpanzee) brought alive to Europe in 1641. Rembrandt van Rijn (NL) immortalized him in his painting The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Tulp.

Francois de Le Boë; Franciscus Sylvius (DE-NL) described a fissure on the lateral surface of the brain (1460). Caspar Bartholin (DK) commemorated him by naming it the Sylvian fissure (181).

Moritz Hoffmann (DE), in 1641, claimed to have described the ductus pancreaticus (duct of Wirsüng, Hoffmann’s duct), the main excretory duct of the pancreas in the turkey. This work was not published.

Johann Georg Wirsüng (DE) discovered the pancreatic duct in man yet incorrectly thought it was a chyliferous vessel originating in the intestine and entering the pancreas (2717).


René Descartes (FR) proposed the idea for the Nebular Hypothesis. It stated that the solar system formed because "God sent adrift a number of "vortices" of swirling gas, and these eventually made the stars, which later changed themselves into comets, which in turn still later formed themselves into planets" (737).

Evangelista Torricelli (IT) sent a letter to Michelangelo Ricci in Rome describing his invention, the barometer (2430).

Jean Claude de la Courvée (FR), in 1644, performed the first symphysiotomy (division of the fibrocartilage of the symphysis pubis, in order to facilitate delivery). The operation was performed to save the life of the child after the death of the mother.

Jean-Réne Sigault; Joseph Aignan Sigaud de Lafond (FR) and Alphonse Louis Vincent Leroy (FR) performed the first division of the symphysis pubis to enlarge the pelvic outlet and thus facilitate childbirth by a women deformed by rachitis; the mother and child survived (2253, 2254). 

James Vaughan (GB) wrote a paper on symphysiotomy (2548).


Marco Aurelio Severino (IT) published his Zootomia Democritaea, the culmination of forty years of anatomical research, in which he discusses his research on the similarities that unify the living beings. It is widely considered the first work of comparative anatomy (2234).


Athanasius Kircher (DE-IT), following his early work with the microscope, speculated that disease and decay might be brought about by the activities of tiny living creatures. He says that with the aid of two convex lenses, held together in a tube, he observed ‘minute ”worms” in all decaying substances’ —in milk, in the blood of persons stricken with fever, and in the spittle ‘of an old man who had lived soberly’ (1383, 1384). He observed microorganisms in the blood of patients (1385).

Wilhelm Fabry; Wilhelm Fabricius Hildanus (DE) was the first well-educated barber-surgeon in Germany. He pioneered amputation above the diseased part in gangrene, invented many surgical instruments, was the first to recognize congenital pyloric stenosis, and the first Western European to use the magnet for removal of iron splinters in the eye (835).


Yellow fever is epidemic in the West Indies.


Yellow fever killed more than 5,000 people in Barbados, and spread from there to Mexico, Cuba, and elsewhere. A second outbreak in 1691 killed many of the British settlers in Barbados, who had arrived since the earlier outbreak, whereas older natives were by this time immune (1396).


Jan Baptiste van Helmont; Joannes Baptiste van Helmont; Joan Baptiste van Helmont; Johannes Baptiste van Helmont (NL) determined that the gas given off by burning charcoal is the same as that given off by fermenting grape juice. He called it spiritus silvestre (“wild spirit”). Today we recognize this as the discovery of carbon dioxide. He speculated that the process of digestion supplies heat to the body (2489).

Joseph Black (GB) rediscovered carbon dioxide, which he called fixed air, by showing that it is released when magnesium carbonate or calcium carbonate are heated. He identified the carbon dioxide thus prepared with that formed in combustion and fermentation by showing that when the gas was passed into limewater the carbonate of lime was generated. He was the first to breath into limewater and observe the formation of a precipitate of calcium carbonate. This experiment was to influence Antoine Laurent Lavoisier’s (FR) conclusion that respiration involves combustion within the body. Black is also credited with discovery of the specific heats of substances (282-285).

Georg Marcgrave; Georg Marggraf (DE) described 100 species of fish indigenous to the Brazilian coastline (1905).

Another smallpox (red plague) outbreak spread to many towns in the Massachusetts colony. By this time there had been many children born in the colony who were susceptible. A simultaneous epidemic of whooping cough added to the severity of the epidemic, and to the overall death toll (1396).


René Descartes (FR), in 1649, postulated that impulses originating in the sensory receptors of the body were carried to the central nervous system where they activated muscles by what he called reflection (735).

Jean Astruc (FR) compared the transformation of an impression or sensation into a motor discharge to a ray of light reflected on a surface; he called it a reflex (127).

Gerard Blasius; Gerhard Bläes; Gerardus Leonardus Blasius (NL) was the first to provide a demonstration of the origin of the anterior and posterior spinal nerve roots and a differentiation between the gray and white matter of the spinal cord. He was the first to illustrate clearly the H shape of gray matter in a cross-section of the spinal cord (291, 292).

Domenico Mistichelli (IT) identified the crossing of motor fibers at the ventral surface of the medulla oblongata (1687).

Francois Pourfour du Petit (FR) gave a brief account of the internal structure of the spinal cord, one of the first descriptions having significant merit, and presented his theory of contralateral innervation (1935).

Francois Pourfour du Petit (FR), in 1712, showed that the origin of the sympathetic nerves is not the cranium. He later cut the cervical sympathetic nerves in the dog and noted that this affected pupil size, the nictitating membrane, and secretions from the eye. He described the decussation of the pyramids more accurately and in greater detail than his predecessors and was among the first to deduce that the right side of the brain must control the left side of the body, whereas the left side of the brain must control the right side of the body (1936).

Johann Jakob Huber (CH) gave the first detailed and accurate descriptions of the spinal cord, spinal roots, and denticulate ligaments (1256).

Robert Whytt (GB) removed known regions of the central nervous system and studied how animals reacted thereafter to various stimuli. He established that the spinal cord is essential for reflex action, described the pupillary response to light, Whytt’s reflex, noting that destruction of the anterior corpora quadrigemina abolished the reaction. He reasoned that the reception of sensory input was distributed throughout the brain and spinal cord (2686).

Felix Vicq-d'Azyr (FR) established the arrangement of the fiber bundles of the spinal cord into a posterior and two lateral columns and a white anterior commissure (2556).

Karl Friedrich Burdach (DE) described the fasciculus cuneatus (428).

Marshall Hall (GB) introduced the concept that the spinal cord is a chain of segments whose functional units are separate reflex arcs. He demonstrated tonic closure of the sphincters by reflex action, cessation of strychnine convulsions after destruction of the spinal cord, and that most reflexes are more readily elicited by stimulating appropriate end-organs than through their bared nerve trunks. He coined the use of the phrase reflex action to describe these functions (1092, 2625).

Benedict Stilling (DE) and Joseph Wallach (DE) devised a microtome which enabled him to cut frozen or alcohol hardened, thin sections and examine them, unstained, with the microscope. They were the first to study the spinal cord in serial sections (2338).

Charles-Édouard Brown-Séquard (FR) found that the posterior columns of the spinal cord convey some sensory impressions. The most important sensory pathways were found to cross in the cord and, if anything, damage will cause hypersensitivity on the ipsilateral side of the spinal cord. Paralysis, loss of muscle sense, hyperasthesia to touch and painful stimuli, and conservation of sensation to cold and warmth, all appeared on the same side as spinal cord lesions. On the opposite side voluntary movement and an intact muscle sense were conserved, however there was a loss or diminution of pain, warmth, cold, and touch (400-402, 406-409).

Ludwig Türck (AT) described the ventral corticospinal tract (2448), and divided the cord into six pathways or tracts: two anterior, two lateral, and two posterior (2449).

Charles-Édouard Brown-Séquard (FR) is associated as a clinician with the description of the syndrome following spinal cord hemi-section, the so-called Brown-Séquard paralysis, characterized by the loss of motor power and position sense on the side of the lesion, with loss of pain and thermal sensibility on the side opposite the lesion. His experiments showed that the principal conduction of sensation in the cord is in the central grey matter and anterior columns, rather than in the conventionally accepted posterior columns (403-405).

Jacob Augustus Lockhart Clarke (GB) described the dorsal nucleus of the spinal cord. A column of large neurons located in the base of the posterior grey column (columna dorsalis) of the spinal cord, extending from the first thoracic through the second lumbar segment. The neurites reach out into the side-chord to form tractus spinecerebellaris posterior (515). These are called Clarke’s columns.

Friedrich Goll (CH) described the fasciculus gracilis (carries proprioception from the lower limbs and lower trunk) within the spinal cord (column or tract of Goll) (1018). 

Paul Emil Flechsig (DE) demonstrated the dorsal spinocerebellar tract within the spinal cord (875).

William Richard Gowers (GB) delineated the ventral spinocerebellar tract within the spinal cord (1033).

Heinrich Lissauer (DE) demonstrated the tractus dorsolateralis - the poorly myelinated fibers capping the apex of the posterior horn in the spinal cord (1516).

Henry Charlton Bastian (GB) provided the basis for what became Bastian's law: a transverse lesion of the spinal cord above the lumbar enlargement results in abolition of the tendon reflexes of the lower extremities (196). 

Constantin von Monakow (RU-CH) described the rubrospinal tract within the spinal cord (2605).

Joseph Jules Déjérine (CH-FR) described radicular myotomes and dermatomes, the somatotopy and connections of the pyramidal tracts, as well as the lateral and ventral spinothalamic tracts. He demonstrated the lateral and anterior spinothalamic tracts (the faisceau en croissant de Dejerine) (725).

Bror Rexed (SE) divided the grey matter of the spinal cord of the cat into 10 (I-X) laminae based on groupings of neuronal size and distribution. Each contained functionally distinct neurons and axonal projections (2025). See, Herophilus, ca. 300 B.C.E.; Galen, ca. 175; Fernel, 1526; Ridley, 1695; Descartes, 1649.

William Harvey (GB) became convinced that systole, rather than diastole, is the active part of the cardiac cycle that begins first in the atria (1117, 1123).

A smallpox (red plague) epidemic passes through London.

ca. 1650

The specific expression, "Above all, do no harm" (Primum est ut non nocere), and its even more distinctive associated Latin phrase, has been traced back to an attribution to Thomas Sydenham (GB), ca. 1650  (1309, 2261).

Hippocrates (GR), in 400 B.C.E. wrote, "The physician must be able to tell the antecedents, know the present, and foretell the future- must mediate these things, and have two special objects in view with regard to disease, namely, to do good or to do no harm" (1205).


Jean Bauhin (FR-CH), Johann Heinrich Cherler (CH) in their Historia Plantarum Universalis, dealt with approximately 5,000 plants. They were among the first, after Aristotle, to distinguish the species from the genus (203). Bauhin is commemorated with the genus Bauhina.

Joannus Jonstonus; Jan Jonston (PL) replaced Mollia with the term Mollusca (1337).

Francis Glisson (GB) wrote the first authoritative monograph published in England dealing with a single disease, rickets (Old English, wrikken, to bend or twist) (1005, 1007).

Henry R. Viets (GB) had earlier written a less authoritative treatise on rickets (2678, 2679).


“Almost all animals, even those which bring forth their young alive, and man himself, are produced from eggs.” Often quoted as “omne vivum ex ovo.” William Harvey (1119)

The mammalian ovum was discovered nearly two centuries later. See, von Baer, 1827.

“The blood is the first engendered part, whence the living principle in the first instance gleams forth, and from which the first animated particle of the embryo is formed; that it is the source and origin of all other parts, both similar and dissimilar, which thence obtain their vital heat and become subservient to it in its duties.” William Harvey (1118).

Nathaniel Highmore (GB) and William Harvey (GB) were among the first people to carefully study the embryonic development of chickens, concluding that all life comes from eggs. Harvey described in great detail the anatomical changes occurring in the uterus of the deer during pregnancy and gave evidence that the ancient doctrine stating that the male semen functioned to organize matter contained within the uterus was incorrect (1118, 1119, 1122, 1193). This work is viewed as original because it brought embryology out of the Dark Ages. Highmore's account of the development of the chick is the first embryological study based on microscopical examination predating Marcello Malpighi by more than twenty years. It was published within weeks of William Harvey's book. Harvey and Highmore had collaborated on embryological research at Oxford since the 1640's.

William Harvey (GB) described the air sacs of birds in detail (1119). See, Frederick II, ca. 1240.

Jean Pecquet (FR) and Johannes van Horne (DK) discovered that in dogs the cisterna chyli (receptaculum chyli) flow into the thoracic duct (ductus thoracius) which in turn opens into the veins at the union of the jugular and subclavian (1865, 1866, 2492). See, Bartolomeo Eustachi, 1552.

Olof Rudbeck the elder (SE) discovered that the lacteals of Aselli drain into the receptaculum chyli, thence into the thoracic duct and thence into the great veins of the neck, and that on opening the duct’s milky chyle flows out in profusion if, before the experiment, the animal has been well fed (1777, 2076, 2314).

Thomas Bartholin; Bartholinus (DK) and his assistant Michael Lyser (DK) reached a very similar conclusion in man: that the lymphatics formed a hitherto unrecognized physiological system which eventually collects into the thoracic duct which enters the circulation at the left subclavian vein. They were the first to find the thoracic duct in man and to realize that lymph is carried away from the liver to the thoracic duct (182, 183, 186, 187).

William Hunter (GB) rediscovered lymphatic vessels in man when he reported, “that they are the same as the lacteals, and that these together constitute one great general system dispersed through the whole body for absorption; that this system only does absorb, and not the veins; that it serves to take up and convey whatever is to make or to be mixed with the blood, from the skin, from the intestinal canal, and from all the internal cavities or surfaces whatever” (1275). See, Hewson, 1771.

Alexander Monro, secundus (GB) showed that the lymphatics are absorbents and distinct from the circulatory system (1700).

Nathaniel Highmore (GB) discovered the maxillary sinus and the mediastinal testis (1192).


Jan Baptiste van Helmont; Joannes Baptiste van Helmont; Joan Baptiste van Helmont; Johannes Baptiste van Helmont (NL) wrote Ortis Medicinae in which he described how he performed a famous experiment. He grew a willow tree in a weighed quantity of soil and showed that after five years, during which time he only added water; the tree had gained 164 pounds while the soil had lost only two ounces. Although he incorrectly concluded that the tree converted the water into its own tissues, this is possibly the first application of a quantitative method to a biological problem.

He made gravimetric studies of urine and is credited with the discovery of carbon dioxide and emphasizing the use of the balance in chemistry and coining the word gas. He described gastric digestion in the terms of fermentation and states that there is an acid ferment in the stomach but the acid itself is not the ferment. The acid chyme of the stomach passes into the duodenum where it becomes alkaline and a second ferment is supplied by the bile. He is considered the founder of the iatro-chemical school of medicine (2490, 2491).

John Hunter (GB) later said, “These appearances throw considerable light on the principle of digestion, and show that it is neither a mechanical power, nor contractions of the stomach, nor heat, but something secreted in the coats of the stomach, and thrown into its cavity, which there animalizes the food or assimilates it to the nature of the blood. The power of this juice is confined or limited to certain substances, especially of the vegetable and animal kingdoms; and although this menstruum is capable of acting independently of the stomach, yet it is indebted to that viscus for its continuance” (1263).

Edward Stevens (GB) had a human subject swallow large silver containers with perforations “capable of admitting a needle.” The containers were recovered some thirty-six to forty-eight hours later, after they had passed through the digestive tract. He tested beef, pork, cheese, pheasant, vegetables of different sorts, and cereal grains. Usually the foods were found to have been completely dissolved, but unbroken cereal grains appeared not to have been altered. Ivory balls were dissolved and disappeared (2293, 2295, 2332).

Lazzaro Spallanzani (IT) swallowed linen bags containing various foodstuffs to study the action of digestion upon the contents. He studied the action of saliva on foodstuffs and was among the first to isolate human gastric juice for study (2292, 2294).

Lazzaro Spallanzani (IT) obtained stomach juice from people with a little sponge on a thread, which people swallowed and which was removed. The experiment showed that the stomach juice dissolves meat but does not dissolve a flower. This work discovered that the gastric juice is acidic and contains hydrochloric acid (2293).

Luigi Valentino Brugnatelli (IT) studied the gastric juice from sheep, cats, fish, and birds. He determined that it is acidic in carnivores while in herbivores it is alkaline and putrescent. He ascertained that the gastric juice of carnivorous animals had great curative powers when applied to foul ulcers or wounds, but that of herbivorous animals was destitute of this property. He succeeded in determining the solvent powers of the gastric juice from birds on metals, calcareous stones, rock crystal, and agate (411-413).

Bassiano Carminati (IT) found that gastric juice is not acidic in carnivorous animals when fasting, but quite acidic in those that had eaten. He discovered that gastric juice of carnivores could be used successfully to treat foul ulcers or wounds (456).

The Academia Naturae Curiosorum was founded. It later became Kaiserlich Leopoldinisch Carolinische Deutsche Akademie der Naturforscher [Royal Leopold and Caroline German Academy of Natural Sciences].


Pierre Borel; Petri Borelli () and Isaac Cattier; Isaaci Cattieri () were the first to observe and describe a free-living nematode, which was dubbed the "vinegar eel" (323).

William Harvey (GB) was the first to describe the communication of the avian pulmonary air-passages with air sacs in the abdominal cavity (1120). 

John Hunter (GB), in 1758, demonstrated that the air sacs of some birds extend into their bones. He proved that birds' bones are hollow and contain air sacs by blocking the windpipes of chickens and hawks then cutting through their wings. The birds could yet fill their lungs with air, though with great difficulty, by taking in air through their severed wing bones (1264, 1268).


Francis Glisson (GB) described the passage of blood from the portal vein to the vena cava, and proved that lymph flows not to the liver, as was then believed, but from it, passing to the recently discovered capsula communis. He is remembered for his description of the fibrous sheath enveloping the portal vein, hepatic artery and duct, still known as Glisson’s capsule (1006).

Francis Glisson (GB) carried out the most detailed investigation of the liver anatomy up to this point in history (1006).

Francis Glisson (GB) described the sphincteric fibers around the terminus of the common bile duct (1006).

Ruggero Oddi (IT) later described these same fibers (1782). They became known as Oddi’s sphincter


Thomas Willis (GB) wrote a book on the epidemic of “Camp Fever” (typhus) in the winter of 1655 (2705).

John Huxham (GB) distinguished between slow nervous (typhoid) and putrid malignant (typhus) fevers (1296).

James Lind (GB) studied typhus then recommended delousing, viz., bathing, clean apparel, and baking of lice-ridden clothing in ovens (1506).

Francesco Enrico Acerbi (IT) postulated that typhus is caused by parasites capable of entering the body and multiplying there to produce disease (24).

William Wood Gerhard (US) presented a differential diagnosis of typhus and typhoid fevers (983).

Charles Murchison (GB) stated that to prevent endemic typhus one must protect the individual from lice (1746).

Osip Moczutkowski (RU) proved that the etiological agent of endemic typhus is present in the blood during the febrile period by inoculating himself with such blood (1689).

Charles Jules Henri Nicolle (FR), Charles Compte (FR) and Ernest Conseil (FR) reported that the body louse, Pediculus vestimenti, transmits typhus fever from person to person (1775, 1776).

Howard Taylor Ricketts (US) and Russell M. Wilder (US) described a bacterium, later named Rickettsia prowazekii, found in the gut of lice feeding on typhus patients (2031, 2032).

Harry Plotz (US), Peter K. Olitsky (US), and Geoege Baehr (US) isolated and identified the etiological agent of typhus fever as Rickettsia prowazekii (1922, 1923).

Harry Plotz (US), Peter K. Olitsky (US), and George Baehr (US) developed a vaccine that proved effective against typhus fever (1924).

Henrique da Rocha-Lima (BR) showed that the bacterium which Ricketts and Wilder found in the gut of lice feeding on typhus patients, is an intracellular parasite and very likely the cause of typhus. He named the organism Rickettsiae prowazekii in honor of Howard Taylor Ricketts (US), who had died in 1910 of typhus fever during an investigation of that disease, and Stanislas Josef Matthias von Prowázek (CZ) who also died of typhus while studying it (606).

Edmund Weil (AT) and Arthur Felix (PL-GB) reported that the sera of patients suffering from typhus agglutinate certain strains of the bacterium Proteus, originally isolated from the urine of a typhus fever victim. The OX-2 and OX-19 strains of Proteus are commonly used. Serum from normal persons did not produce a similar result (2654-2656). Later studies showed that Proteus spp. are not the cause of typhus fever and that antibodies against Proteus spp. normally occur quite commonly in humans. Today this procedure is called the Weil-Felix Test.

Mather H. Neill (US) discovered that scrotal reactions of guinea pigs with Mexican typhus (later known as murine typhus) could be used as a differential test with European, or epidemic, typhus. It was first known as the Neill phenomenon; later called the Neill-Mooser phenomenon after Neill and Herman Mooser, a Swiss pathologist working in Mexico (1706, 1763).  

William Fletcher (MY) and J.E. Lesslar (MY) found that the Proteus OX-K strain appears specifically to agglutinate with antibodies to Rickettsia tsutsugamushi (877).

Kenneth Fuller Maxcy (US) identified an "endemic" form of typhus fever (Brill’s disease) in the Southeastern United States and suggested that some parasite of the rat might be its vector (1629).

Rolla Eugene Dyer (US), Elmer T. Ceder (US), Adolph S. Rumreich (US), and Lucius F. Badger (US) made the first isolation of murine typhus from rat fleas. The fleas were collected at an outbreak of typhus fever in Baltimore, MD (794). Along with Elmer T. Ceder (US) and Ralph Dougall Lillie (US) they showed that the rickettsia of murine typhus persisted in rat fleas for at least nine days and were present in feces of infected fleas. They were also successful in experimental transmission of murine typhus from rat to rat with the flea Xenopsylla cheopis Rothschild (793).

M. Ruiz Castañeda (MX) and Samuel J. Zia (MX) found that there is a common antigenic factor in Rickettsiae and Proteus X-19 which explains the Well-Felix reaction (463).

Hans Zinsser (US) demonstrated that Brill's disease is identical to Old World typhus caused by Rickettsia prowazeki da Rocha Lima (1925, 2765-2767). The disease was renamed Brill-Zinsser’s disease.

Herald Rea Cox (US) and E. John Bell (US) developed a formalinized rickettsial vaccine for epidemic typhus (574, 575).

Michael P. McLeod (US), Xiang Qin (US), Sandor E. Karpathy (US), Jason Gioia (US), Sarah K. Highlander (US), George E. Fox (US), Thomas Z. McNeill (US), Huaiyang Jiang (US), Donna Muzny (US), Leni S. Jacob (US), Alicia C. Hawes (US), Erica Sodergren (US), Rachel Gill (US), Jennifer Hume (US), Maggie Morgan (US), Guangwei Fan (US), Anita G. Amin (US), Richard A. Gibbs (US), Chao Hong (US), Xue-jie Yu (US), David H. Walker (US), and George M. Weinstock (US) sequenced the genome of R. typhi and found it to be nearly identical to its close relative R. prowazekii and highly similar to R. conorii and other bacteria of the spotted fever group. The high degree of similarity between R. typhi and R. prowazekii illustrates the small differences that can affect virulence in different hosts. Thus, despite their close genetic relatedness, R. prowazekii is highly pathogenic in humans, whereas R. typhi is a milder pathogen in humans (1645).

Isaac de La Peyrère (FR) wrote one of the first books to challenge the biblical account of creation. Based on human artifacts he asserted that Adam and Eve were the founding couple only of the Jews. The Gentiles were older—pre-Adam. His book became very popular—translated into several languages—and thus earned him the ire of both the Catholics and the Calvinists. His book was burned in Paris, he was forced to recant his ideas, then forced to live out his life in a convent (1427).

Conrad Victor Schneider (DE) argued that the nasal mucosa, and not the ventricles or the brain, is the source of nasal secretions (2174).  He did not know that the racemose glands produce the nasal secretion.


Thomas Wharton (GB) discovered the duct of the submaxillary salivary gland (Wharton’s duct) and a gelatinous intercellular substance that is the primitive mucoid connective tissue of the umbilical cord (Wharton’s jelly). He also deserves credit for being the first to associate the adrenal glands with a function of the nervous system. His description of the adrenals taking a substance from nerves and transferring it to veins preceded the neuroendocrine concept of the adrenal medulla that we have only appreciated in the 20th century (2677).

Rudolf Albert von Kölliker (CH) confirmed Wharton’s work on the adrenal glands (2600).

Dominici de Marchettis; Domenico De Marchetti; Dominicus de Marchettis (IT) shows anastomosis of arterioles and veins by injection (692).

Étienne Blankaard; Steven Blankaart; Stephano Blancardo; Stephen Blancard; Blancardus (NL) demonstrated by injection, in 1675, the continuity of arterial and venous capillaries (290). See, Marello Malpighi, 1661. 


A pandemic of malarial fever (the ague) takes place.


England experiences epidemic catarrhal fever (probably influenza).


The Academia del Cimento was founded at Florence, Italy. Its purpose was scientific investigation.

Christopher Wren (GB) is credited with the creation of the first syringe for intravenous injections by fastening a dog’s bladder to a sharpened goose quill (992). Wren was actually preceded in 1652 in the use of this device by Francis Potter, a British rector, whose choice of pullets as an experimental animal doomed his experiments to failure (1212, 1372).

Johann Daniel Major (DE) and Johann S. Elsholtz (DE) wrote the first books on intravenous infusions in humans (810, 1570).

Dominique Anel (FR), a surgeon to the seventeenth-century French army, is usually credited with the invention, in 1714, of the kind of syringe used today. He devised this instrument for the surgical treatment of fistula lacrymalis (1947).

Francis Rynd (IE) invented the hollow metal needle. He first used it in 1844 to administer morphine by gravity through the needle into a patient suffering from neuralgia (2107).

Charles-Gabriel Pravaz (FR) and Alexander Wood (GB) are independently credited with the invention of the hypodermic syringe in 1853. Pravaz, a veterinarian, made intra-arterial injections into animals to treat aneurysm (1939). Wood, a physician, first made subcutaneous injections of opiates to relieve pain (2733). The first recorded fatality from a hypodermic syringe induced overdose was Dr. Wood's wife. The tragedy arose because she was injecting morphine to excess.


Thomas Willis (GB) tells of typhus and influenza being present in England. An outbreak of influenza in April 1658 led him to treat almost 1000 patients a week for a short period (2707). 


James Ussher (GB) calculated the date of creation, based on the ages of biblical prophets. Using his calculations, future theologians identified the date of creation as October 26, 4004 B.C.E. (2464).

Jan Swammerdam (NL) discovered the erythrocyte in the frog (1658) then in man (1662), described lymphatic valves and the alteration in the shape of muscles during contraction. In his study of the insects he produced outstanding drawings, classified them, and described their transformations, i.e., he started modern entomology. Swammerdam’s work was unpublished until Herman Boerhaave (NL) published it at his own expense (2363, 2364). He is commemorated by Atylus swammerdami Milne-Edwards, 1830.

Francois de la Boë Sylvius; Franciscus Sylvius (DE-NL) promoted the Iatro-chemical school of medicine, whose followers used medicines and did not accept the humoral pathology. While professor of medicine at Leyden he convinced the authorities to build a Laboratorium, probably the first chemical laboratory in a university. Sylvius introduced bedside teaching and stressed the importance of pathological studies. He pointed out that the formation of tubercles in the lungs represents the essential pathological finding in phthsis (tuberculosis) (2377, 2378).

Johann Jakob Wepfer (CH) described the autopsy of a case with subarachnoid hemorrhage and theorized that a broken blood vessel in the brain may cause apoplexy (stroke) (2671).


Thomas Willis (GB) proposed the idea that fermentation is an internal motion of particles. He pointed to the similarity between fermentation and putrefaction. Early chemists were interested in putrefaction or rotting of various infusions because it was known that industrially useful substances such as lactic acid, butyric acid, or ethanol could be obtained from these infusions as they putrefied (2699).


The Royal Society of London took as its motto the phrase Nullius in verba [No man’s word shall be final].

Robert Boyle (GB) was convinced of the particulate nature of air (345).

Nicolas Le Febvre (FR), Thomas Jolly (FR), and Abbaye Saint-Denis (FR) wrote Traicte de la Chymie in which they held that the function of air in respiration is to purify the blood (1461).

Konrad Victor Schneider (DE) demonstrated that nasal mucus is a product of mucous glands lining the nasal cavity (2175).


Robert Boyle (GB) is credited with being the first to produce pure methyl alcohol (methanol, wood alcohol) despite the fact of its production in antiquity (346).

Robert Boyle (GB), in his book The Sceptical Chemist, is given credit for defining an element as it is currently used in chemistry. He also emphasized the importance of the Baconian method of experimental science as opposed to blind acceptance of previous authority (346).

Marcello Malpighi (IT), anatomist, general histologist, and professor of medicine, discovered fine hair-like blood vessels in the lungs of frogs connecting arterial and venous blood; they were later called capillaries. He offered proof that the windpipe terminates in many small, dilated air vessels; they were later called alveoli. Malpighi thus presented the correct anatomy for respiratory exchange. He described lymph nodes and discussed the glands (glomeruli) of the kidney. He wrote the first treatise to deal with an invertebrate—the silkworm. He was among the first to describe the embryonic development of the chick, using the microscope. (See, Highmore 1651b) He described the respiratory vessels in insects, spiral looking cells in plant stems, and openings on the underside of leaves; later to be called stomata, and gave the first account of the development of the seed (32, 1574, 1578, 1579, 1582, 1584). He was commemorated with the plant genus Malpighia and the family, Malpighiaceae.

John Ray (GB) discovered hermaphroditism among pulmonate snails. In his book, Catalogus Plantarum Circa Cantabrigiam Nascentium he says, "Not even this lethal plant [the deadly nightshade (Atropa belladonna)] escapes the teeth of snails and slugs for its leaves are freely eaten in spring by these creatures. In passing one may mention that they are hermaphrodite. That they alternately function as male and female by impregnating and receiving at the same time will be clear to anyone who separates them as they are having intercourse in Spring, although neither Aristotle nor any other writer on Natural History has recorded this fact" (830, 1983).

Jan Swammerdam (NL), in his1669 book, Historia Insectorum Generalis mentioned "Snails discharge their excrements by the neck, and are each of them, both Male and Female" (2361). 

 Johann Jacob Harder (CH) discovered hermaphroditism among the pulmonate mollusks (1104).

Thomas Willis (GB) suggested the nervous origins of convulsive disorders such as epilepsy, asthma, apoplexy, narcolepsy, and convulsive coughs. He gave an account of whooping cough, described the role of bronchial innervation, and the late-stage effects of syphilis on the brain. He describes a typhoid epidemic of 1661, in England (2701).

Thomas Willis (GB) in a section titled ‘Of the Phrensy’, offered ‘meningitis’ as the modern diagnosis of phrensy/phrenitis. Moreover, Willis clearly described the pathology of compression of the brain as a consequence of meningeal inflammation and also mentions an epidemic of meningitis, reigning An. 1661, which chiefly infested the brain and the genus nervosum (2706).

Scarlet fever appears in England.


The Royal Society of London was formally incorporated in 1662. It had begun in 1645 when a group of doctors and scientists in London formed a society they called The Invisible College. It briefly moved to Oxford then returned to London. Charles II approved their organization in 1660 (2299).

Robert Boyle (GB) formulated what became known as Boyle’s law—at a stated temperature, a given mass of gas varies in volume inversely as the pressure (347).

Niels Stensen; Nicholas Stenonis; Nicholas Steno; Nicolaus Steno; Niels Steensen; Nicolaus Steensen (DK) described the excretory duct of the parotid gland (parotis or (Stensen’s duct) while dissecting the head of a sheep. He also described the lacrymeal gland and ducts used to bath the eye (2315, 2320, 2325).

Smallpox (red plague) killed more than a thousand Iroquois in Central New York State (1396).


The plague occurs in England.


Jan Swammerdam (NL) performed laboratory experiments on the contraction of frog muscle (2363, 2364).

Marcello Malpighi (IT) posthumously described tubular sense organs he found in some fish in 1663. These became known as "ampullae of Lorenzini" (1581). See, Stefano Lorenzini, 1678.

Lorenzo Bellini (IT) described renal tubules for the first time, Bellini’s ducts, and proposed how urine might be formed (227).

Hendrick van Roonhuyse (NL) gave the first deliberate and detailed account of the repair of a vesicovaginal fistula. His book is regarded as the first work on operative gynecology in the modern sense. He successfully performed caesarean section several times, and he used retractors for the repair of vesico-vaginal fistulae (2536).

Girolamo Cardano (IT) used raised letters to communicate with the blind and described a formal method for teaching deaf mutes to communicate with signs (454).

North American colonists established their first hospital. It was on Long Island in what would become New York State (1572).


“They have considered the heart as the seat of vital heat, the throne of the spirit or the soul itself. They have revered the organ as sun or king, but if one looks at the heart with more care, only its muscular nature can be found” Niels Stensen; Nicholas Stenonis; Nicholas Steno; Nicolaus Steno; Niels Steensen; Nicolaus Steensen (2316)

Robert Boyle (GB), in 1664, was the first to distinguish between acids, bases, and neutral substances, and in his 1664 Experiments he codified the analysis of solutions by use of colored vegetable extracts serving as "indicators" of the presence of acids or bases or neutral substances (350). He is credited with the introduction of litmus paper.

William Croone; William Croune (GB) suggested that within muscle cells the globules (sarcomeres), delineated by cross-striations, may serve as units of contraction. He also assumed that contraction occurs without a change in muscle volume and proposed that nerves play a role in conducting the stimulus from the brain to the muscle fibers (585, 586). See, Stensen, 1664 and 1667.

Reijnier de Graaf (NL) performed the first cannulization. He introduced a temporary cannula, made of the quill of a wild duck, into the pancreatic duct of a living dog, and studied the properties of the liquid obtained. He noted its color, what he thought was an acid reaction, and its bitter taste (668, 672).

Gerard Blasius; Gerhard Bläes; Gerardus Leonardus Blasius (NL) discovered and named the arachnoid membrane, one of the three meninges covering the brain; presenting his finding to the Anatomical Society of Amsterdam in 1664 (291, 861).

Humphrey Ridley (GB) described the arachnoid membrane and observed that it invests various cerebral vessels and intracranial nerves. He disproved the idea that some cerebral arteries terminated directly into the major venous sinuses of the brain (2033).

Frederik Ruysch (NL) described the arachnoid membrane as a complete layer surrounding the brain (822). 

Thomas Willis (GB) gave one of the earliest descriptions of the arterial supply of the brain, the Circle of Willis, a precise account of the cranial nerves, Nerves of Willis. He was certain about the location of the thought process. He wrote, “in truth within the womb of the brain all the conceptions, ideas, forces and powers whatsoever both of the rational and sensitive soul are formed, and having there gotten a species are transformed into acts.” Regarding the function of the cerebral cortex he said, “Then if the same fluctuation of the spirits is struck against the cortex of the brain, as its utmost banks, it impresses on it the image or character of the sensible object, which when it is afterwards reflected or bent back, raises up the memory of the same thing…And sometimes a certain sensible impression…striking against the cortex of the brain itself…and so induces memory with phantasie.” For him the cerebellum and the pons were responsible for the involuntary motions of various organs, such as the heart beat, breathing and gastrointestinal peristalsis. He was the first to describe the ganglions of the sympathetic nerves and recognized the vagus nerve, erroneously assuming it had its origin in the cerebellum. Domenico de Marchetti (IT) coined the name vagus for this cranial nerve.

Willis attempted to correlate the organization of the brain’s convolutions with intelligence and stressed that the brain's workings are mediated by the brain parenchyma and not, as previously held, by the ventricles. 

He stressed that the nerves do not contain cavities like arteries and veins but are firm and compacted. Willis described the eleventh cranial nerve. In the 1664 work he coined the word neurology (neurologie) and named the pyramidal system in the brain (believing it to be a reservoir for the animal spirits). He anticipated what would later be called dementia praecox when in 1664 he wrote, “young persons who, lively and spirited, and at times even brilliant in their childhood, passed into obtuseness and hebetude during adolescence" (2700, 2704).

Emanuel Swedenborg (SE) deduced that the cerebrum of the brain is the source of understanding, thinking, judging, and willing. He inferred the intellectual functions of the frontal lobes. He described what is the first known anticipation of the neuron (a nerve cell with its processes) (26, 2369).

Niels Stensen; Nicholas Stenonis; Nicholas Steno; Nicolaus Steno; Niels Steensen; Nicolaus Steensen (DK) made a careful investigation of the ox heart musculature. After a thorough examination he stated: “As to the substance of the heart, I think I am able to prove that there exists nothing in the heart that is not found also in a muscle, and that there is nothing missing in the heart which one finds in a muscle." He also described the anatomy and function of the respiratory muscles including the diaphragm (2316, 2319, 2324).


Cromwell’s troops in Jamaica suffer from an epidemic of dysentery.


Robert Hooke (GB) published a theory of combustion. He stated that ordinary air contains a small amount of matter identical with a substance found in nitre (potassium nitrate). This substance has the property of rapidly dissolving combustibles, with combustion being the result of their rapid motion (1235). In this same publication Hooke described and illustrated a parasitic rose rust (Phragmidium mucronatum) and a saprophytic Mucor.

Robert Hooke (GB) used a compound microscope to describe small pores in sections of cork that he called cells. “ . . . I could exceedingly plainly perceive it to be all perforated and porous. . . these pores, or cells, . . . were indeed the first microscopical pores I ever saw, and perhaps, that were ever seen, for I had not met with any Writer or Person, that had made any mention of them before this.” In his book, Micrographia, he also described and made beautiful drawings of insects, feathers, Foraminifera, and fish scales, as well as, hair and wool both in their natural condition and after dying. He may be the first to have stained objects for viewing. He specifically mentions using logwood (hematoxylin) to stain fluids (1235).

Robert Boyle (GB) presented his method of fixing and preserving soft-bodied animal specimens in wine spirits (349).

Adolph Hannover (DK) introduced the technique of fixing tissue in chromic acid to improve its contrast during microscopic observation (1102).

Heinrich Müller (DE) introduced potassium dichromate as a tissue fixative (1732).

Frederik Ruysch (NL) provided the first description of the valves of the lymphatics (2104).

Marcello Malpighi (IT), and Carlo Fracassati (IT) distinguished the outer layer of the tongue and the reticular mucous layer and isolated the taste buds. They demonstrated that the white matter of the nervous system was made of bundles of fibers, which connected the brain with the spinal cord (1585).

Johann Sigismund Elsholtz (DE) made the first attempt at intravenous anesthesia (810).

The Great Plague (Yersinia pestis) of London killed at least 20 percent of the city's population, perhaps as many as 100,000 people (1396). It is likely that the rhyme Ring a Ring o’ Roses originated at this time although it did not appear in print until 1881. Ring a ring o’ roses refers to the circular rosy rash that is an early symptom of the plague. A pocketful of posies refers to herbs people carried in their pockets, believing they offered protection. A-tishoo! A-tishoo!/ We all fall down, tells of the plague’s fatal sneeze, which preceded physical collapse; literally the victim fell down dead (1043). 

Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, the oldest scientific journal printed in the English-speaking world, was first published in England on 6 March 1665. Henry Oldenburg (DE) was founder and editor.

Le Journal des Savants was first published in France. This is the oldest scientific journal, first issue, 5 January 1665.


Smallpox (red plague) was reported in Europe.


Robert Hooke (GB), on 9 November, wrote the Fellows of the Royal Society in London that, “I did heretofore give this Illustrious Society [the Royal Society] an account of an Experiment I formerly tryed of keeping a Dog alive…by the Reciprocal blowing up of his Lungs with Bellowes, and they suffered to subside, for the space of an hour or more, after his Thorax had been so display'd [cut open], and his Aspera arteria [bronchus had been] cut off just below the Epiglottis, and bound upon the nose of the Bellows” (276, 1236).

Richard Lower (GB) discovered that venous blood is converted from dark red to a bright red by contact with something in the air that he called the nitrous spirit. He injected venous blood into inflated lungs and noted that it became bright red. He suggested that the blood absorbed from the air a definite chemical substance necessary for life, and that this was, in fact, the chief function of the pulmonary circulation. When he ligated the heart’s nerve connections, it palpitated, quivered, and after a few days stopped beating. He guessed that the nerves carried a spirit from the storeroom of the cerebellum to the heart. He observed that ligation of the inferior vena cava gives rise to ascites. Lower followed the flow of digested nutriment from intestine to lacteals to lymphatics to blood and so to various parts of the body and demonstrated that phlegm originates in the nasal membranes and not in the brain as was thought. He noted that excess pressure from the pericardial fluid could cause the heart to stop beating (1075, 1536-1538). See, Konrad Victor Schneider, 1660.

Thomas Sydenham (GB) studied predisposing causes of diseases using a rational approach to treatment of disease. He contended that healing would better be promoted when the root cause of a disease could be found along with the laws governing the course of the disease and that the patient was best served when the physician tried to assist nature. He encouraged students to learn about disease at the bedside. Sydenham supported the Hippocratic idea of humoral pathology. He treated anemic patients with what he called steel tonic, made by steeping steel filings in cold Rhenish wine (this process resulted in the formation of ferrous potassium tartrate). He is to be given credit for demonstrating that iron is essential in the diet. He popularized the use of laudanum (alcoholic tincture of opium) in English medicine and advocated the use of Peruvian bark or Jesuit’s powder (quinine) as an antimalarial. Sydenham wrote outstanding descriptions of many diseases such as scarlet fever, measles, influenza, and gout; being one of the first to describe in detail the so-called Bell’s palsy, however he will be remembered for reporting the definite clinical entity known as St. Vitus Dance or chorea minor in 1686. " This is a kind of convulsion, which attacks boys and girls from the tenth year to the time of puberty. It first shows itself by limping or unsteadiness in one of the legs, which the patient drags. The hand cannot be steady for a moment. It passes from one position to another by a convulsive movement, however, much the patient may strive to the contrary." His description of measles is excellent, “The measles generally attack children. On the first day they have chills and fever…On the second…cough…The nose and eyes run continually; and this is the surest sign of measles…[on] the fourth day…there appear on the face and forehead small red spots, very like the bites of fleas” (2371, 2373, 2374). Note: St. Vitus Dance or chorea minor is an infectious disease of the central nervous system, appearing after a streptococcal infection, with subsequent rheumatic fever, characterized by involuntary purposeless contractions of the muscles of the trunk and extremities.

A. Delcourt (FR) and R. Sand (FR) discovered that the pathophysiology of Sydenham’s chorea involves inflammation of both the cortex and the basal ganglia of the brain (727).

Frederick John Poynton (GB) and Alexander Paine (GB) determined that the causal agent of Sydenham’s chorea is a bacterium they named Diplococcus rheumaticus (1938).

Heinrich Meibom (DE) described and rediscovered the tarsal glands of the eyelid first noted by Julius Cesare Casserius (IT) in 1609 (460, 1657).

Marcello Malpighi (IT) described the glomeruli of the kidney, Malpighian bodies, as attached to the tips of arteries within the kidney. “The glands [i.e., the glomeruli] that have been discovered in the kidney…contribute a special service in the excretion of the urine…. They appear…spherical, precisely like fish eggs: and when a dark fluid is perfused through the arteries they grow dark.” In this paper he also gives the first recorded description of Hodgkin’s lymphoma (1575).

Thomas Bartholin (DK) gave the first scholarly account of peasant immunization practices in Europe. He described how parents fearful for their children’s health, would seek out someone with a case of smallpox (red plague), preferably a mild one. The smallpox victim and the child would then make contact in such a way as to infect the child. After an incubation period of about a week the child, if it was lucky, would develop a mild case of smallpox and would emerge virtually unscarred and immune to the disease thereafter; the mild induced case gave the same protection that was provided by a severe one. Educated people came to call this practice of folk medicine inoculation (L. inoculare, to graft) or variolation (L. varus, pimple), variola being the scholarly name for smallpox (184, 185). 

A smallpox (red plague) outbreak struck Boston, but was relatively mild, and only about 40 people died (1396).

The Académie des Sciences was founded in Paris.


Thomas Sydenham (GB) reports that smallpox (red plague) is present in England.


London experiences a smallpox (red plague) epidemic.


A pandemic of malarial fever (the ague) effects Europe.


Adrien Auzout (FR) and Jean Picard (FR) invented the type of micrometer that survived and is in use today (137).

Niels Stensen; Nicholas Stenonis; Nicholas Steno; Nicolaus Steno; Niels Steensen; Nicolaus Steensen (DK) developed a mathematical description of muscular contraction, and attempted to show that muscles do not increase in volume during contraction. He dissected the head of a giant white shark and for the first time correctly identified the serpent tongues or tongue stones (glossopetrae) from the island of Malta as fossilized shark teeth. This was a significant event in early paleontology (2317, 2323, 2326).

Walter Needham (GB) gave the first thorough description of the placenta and the fetal membranes. He claimed, but did not prove, that the fetus in utero is nourished by blood from the placenta (1761).

Jan Swammerdam (NL) described docimasia of fetal lungs. This is a determination of whether air had entered the lungs of a dead infant, as an indication whether it was born dead or alive. He found that fetal lungs would float in water following respiration (2360). 

An epidemic of plague at Nottingham marks a cessation of the disease in England.


Epidemic dysentery (the "bloody flux") is present in England (described by Sydenham and Morton).


A fatal aphthous fever (resembling thrush) is present in Leyden and other Dutch towns.


Francesco Redi (IT) made many experiments to test the concept of spontaneous generation. He placed various kinds of flesh in open boxes and left them to decay. Maggots appeared and he watched them become converted into adult insects. He also found ova which he considered had been dropped on the flesh by flies. He put a snake, some fish, some eels, and a slice of milk-fed veal into four wide-mouthed vessels, and sealed them with paper. He then prepared similar vessels in the same way except that they were left open. In the latter the flesh rapidly teemed with maggots but he could find none in the closed series, although here and there on the paper cover he saw maggots eagerly seeking any crevice through which they could penetrate to obtain food. He performed other experiments in which the paper was replaced by the finest gauze to allow airflow. He placed the gauze-covered vessels in a frame also covered by gauze. Maggots and flies were seen on the gauze but none appeared on the meat. He observed flies deposit their ova on the gauze. This was the first clear-cut case of using controls in a scientific experiment. By these experiments Redi destroyed the myth that maggots appear spontaneously on meat (425, 1993, 1996). It was Redi who introduced into the scientific method the serial procedure and comparison between research experiments and control experiments.

John Mayow (GB)—who also gives a remarkably correct anatomical description of the mechanism of respiration – preceded Priestley and Lavoisier by a century in recognizing the existence of oxygen, under the guise of his spiritus nitro-aereus, as a separate entity distinct from the general mass of the air. Mayow perceived the part spiritus nitro-aereus plays in combustion and in increasing the weight of the calces (oxides) of metals as compared with metals themselves. Rejecting the common notions of his time that the use of breathing is to cool the heart, or assist the passage of the blood from the right to the left side of the heart, or merely to agitate it, Mayow saw in inspiration a mechanism for introducing oxygen into the body, where it is consumed for the production of heat and muscular activity. He remarked, “The blood returning to the heart is for the greater part deprived of spiritus nitroaereus which it has left in the brain for the production of animal spirit.” Mayow clearly points out that respiration within the fetus is possible because the placenta brings nourishment and spiritus nitro-aereus (oxygen) to it and reasons that the umbilical blood vessels near the shell of an egg bring spiritus nitro-aereus (oxygen) to the developing embryo. He even vaguely conceived of expiration as an excretory process (1634-1636). The 1669 tracts were presented in 1668. See, Hooke, 1665,

Reijnier de Graaf (NL) described the fine structure of the human testis and later the fine structure of the human ovary (whose name he suggested). He described the ovarian follicles (folliculus oophorus vesiculosus), which he mistakenly took to be the egg or ovum (669-671). In his honor, Albrecht von Haller (CH) was later to name the follicles on the surface Graafian follicles.

Karl Ernst von Baer (EE-DE-RU) discovered (in the dog) that the egg is a smaller body within the follicle and traced it to the uterus by way of the oviduct (2570-2573).

Niels Stensen; Nicholas Stenonis; Nicholas Steno; Nicolaus Steno; Niels Steensen; Nicolaus Steensen (DK), in 1668, discovered the fibrous nature of the nervous system’s white matter. This white matter he showed to consist of tracts of fibers in continuity with the nerves. He proposed that thought and movement depended on the arrangement and co-ordination of nerve fibers within the brain. This shattered the Greek theory that the ventricles were the principal functional elements of the brain and Descartes’ theory that the pineal gland was central to the thought process (2328).

L’Abbe Edmé Mariotte (FR) related his discovery of the blind spot of the eye in a letter to Christiaan Huygens (NL) then sent them to the Royal Society in London (1610, 1611).

Probably the earliest recorded epidemic of yellow fever to occur in non-tropical America, struck New York in late summer and early fall of 1668. It was described as an autumnal bilious fever in infectious form. The contemporary descriptions leave some possibility open that it could have been some other disease, but yellow fever seems the most likely (1396).


England experiences dysentery (the "bloody flux") and infantile summer diarrhea (Thomas Sydenham and Thomas Willis).


“I first observed, that it is clearer than the light of noon, that man, like insects, is produced from a visible egg, which after being impregnated, is brought forth; that is, it is by local motion conveyed out of the ovary through a tube into the uterus which is the place wherein man, that rational animal, finds the first nourishment and represents as it were a Vermicle or Worm, or to use Harvey’s words, a Magot lying in the egg.” Jan Swammerdam (NL) (2362, 2363)

Although this statement does not conflict with the concept of preformation it is interesting because Swammerdam believed in preformation. See, William Harvey, 1651.

Hennig Brandt; Hennig Brand (DE) prepared white phosphorus by using the anaerobic destructive distillation of the solids of urine. Elemental phosphorus passed over and collected under the liquid in the retort. He wrote about his discovery to the mathematician and philosopher Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (DE), who later in his Historia Inventionis Phosphori (Berlin 1710), wrote that Brand was an impoverished merchant who sought to restore his wealth by converting base metals into gold; and during his alchemical experiments with urine discovered phosphorus.
As was typical in alchemy at the time, the details of the method were kept secret. Brand sold his secret to the German physician Johannes Daniel Krafft (2486).

John Wray; John Ray (GB) reports experiments by Francis Jessop (GB), Samuel (GB), and John Fisher (GB) on the isolation of formic acid by the distillation of large numbers of ants (2740).

Andreas Sigismund Marggraf (DE) obtained formic acid by distilling ants with steam (1603).

Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac (FR) synthesized formic acid from hydrocyanic acid. Ref 

Jan Swammerdam (NL) described water-fleas (Daphnia) (2361).

Jan Swammerdam (NL) described the metamorphosis of insects, supporting the preformation doctrine (2363, 2364).

Marcello Malpighi (IT) produced the first monograph on an invertebrate, the silkworm. He dissected the silkworm under the microscope noting the air ducts (tracheae) and the blood duct with a number of pulsating centers (corcula). He also observed the heart, the gut, the glandular system now known as "Malpighian tubules", and the nerve chain (1576).

Agostino Scilla (IT) published Vain Speculation Undeceived by Sense arguing for the organic origin of fossils (2196).

Giuseppe Zambeccari (IT), in 1670, performed nephrectomy on dogs (2751, 2752).


Isaac Newton (GB) presented his theory of color (1769, 1770).

Niels Stensen, Nicholas Stenonis, Nicholas Steno, Nicolaus Steno, Niels Steensen or Nicolaus Steensen (DK), in 1671, reported his studies on the composition of the Earth’s crust in the Tuscany region. He was the first to recognize that the strata of the Earth contain the chronological record of its geological history. While attempting to reconstruct the earth's history Steno made the important point that sediments are deposited in horizontal layers (2318, 2321, 2322). See, da Vinci, c. 1490.

Friedrich Martens (DE), a ship’s doctor, in 1671, described and drew Mertensia and Bolinopsis in the vicinity of Spitzbergen. This was the first description of members of this group of animals which were eventually placed in the phylum Ctenophora (1617).

Thomas Willis (GB) showed that hysteria is a nervous disease and not a uterine disorder as had been traditionally believed (2702).


Nehemiah Grew (GB) published an extensively illustrated volume summarizing his detailed studies of the anatomy and morphology of stems, flowers, seeds, and fruits. He used a microscope to aid many of his observations. Grew is credited with coining the word parenchyma (1046). He is commemorated with the genus Grewia Linnaeus.

Jean-Baptiste Denis; Jean-Baptiste Denys (FR) first showed that gravity induces the stems of plants to grow upwards and their main roots to grow downwards (732). 

Francis Glisson (GB) performed experiments, which indicated that muscle volume remains constant during contraction. He is credited with originating the idea that irritability is one of the qualities of living tissue, irritabilitas (irritability) (1008, 1009).

Vincent Ketelaer (NL) gave an excellent clinical description of sprue (thrush) (1369).

Thomas Willis (GB) was one of the first physicians in Europe to note the sweet taste of diabetic urine. He observed that asthma is characterized by bronchiolar constriction and described cardiospasm, and hyperacusis (1168, 1572, 2700).

Johannes Nicolaus Pechlin (NL) was well known for his first description of the lymphatic nodules and masses located in the walls of the ileum (1864).

Johann Conrad Peyer (CH) described noduli lymphatici aggregati (Peyer's Patches) and noduli lymphatici solitarii (Peyer's Nodules) (1884). Peyer’s Patches are aggregates of specialized lymphoid tissue in the small intestine where they form circular or oval patches, from twenty to thirty in number, most commonly in the ileum. Peyer’s Nodules are lymphoid tissue found scattered throughout the mucous membrane of the small intestine, but most numerous in the lower part of the ileum. All of this lymphoid tissue detects antigens such as bacteria and toxins and mobilizes an immune response.

Thomas Willis (GB) was the first to describe the clinical symptoms of what would later be called myasthenia gravis (2703).

Samuel Wilks (GB) was one of the first to describe a case of myasthenia gravis, It was called bulbar paralysis (2695).

Wilhelm Heinrich Erb (DE) and Samuel Vulfovits Goldflam (PL) described a syndrome (myasthenia gravis) characterized by ptosis, strabismus, occasionally by complete ophthalmoplegia externa, weakness of masticatory muscles, dysphagia, dysphonia, and general muscular exhaustion after slight activity. It occurs in both sexes at any age, with a male to female ratio of 1:2, most commonly with onset in early middle age (820, 1017). Myasthenia gravis is synonymous with Erb-Goldflam syndrome and results from to the presence of circulating antibodies to acetylcholine receptor (AchR) and faulty synaptic transmission at the myoneural junction. Initially, the symptoms may last for short periods, then disappear, to return a few weeks later, becoming more pronounced.

William Richard Gowers (GB) reported a case of myasthenia gravis (1034). See, Nastuk, 1960, Patrick, 1973, and Lindstrom, 1979.

Francois Mauriceau (FR) penned, The Diseases of Women with Child, and in Child-bed, the first textbook devoted to the practice of obstetrics. Translated into multiple languages, the book was widely regarded for many generations and provided some of the earliest formal training for obstetricians and midwives (1627). Many non-textbooks on childbirth were written at earlier dates. See, Soranos of Ephesus, c. 120.

Richard Lower (GB) described the autopsied brain of a death due to a pituitary tumor (1538).


“By its very nature the uterus is a field for growing the seeds, that is to say the ova, sown upon it. Here the eggs are fostered, and here the parts of the living [foetus], when they are further unfolded, become manifest and are made strong. Yet although it has been cast off by the mother and sown, the egg is weak and powerless and so requires the energy of the semen of the male to initiate growth.” Marcello Malpighi (32)

Malpighi is referring to the development of the chick.

Otto Tachenius; Ottonis Tachenii (DE) was the first to suggest that an acid compound is hidden in fats since the strength of the alkali disappears when making soap (2380, 2381).

Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (NL), an amateur scientist, sent his first letter, dated 15 August 1673, to the Royal Society for publication in their Philosophical Transactions. This letter dealt with the anatomy of the bee and gives an account of its sting; an account of the structure and growth of wood and the motions of fluids in wood; concerning the food and digestion of a louse; about the compression of air (2495). He was born Thonis Philipszoon.

Marcello Malpighi (IT) reported his observations on the embryonic development of the chick. His discoveries include: the vascular area embraced by the terminal sinus, the cardiac tube and its segmentation, the aortic arches, the somites, the neural folds and neural tube, the cerebral vesicles, the optic vesicles, the proto-liver, the glands of the pro-stomach, and the feather follicles. He first described the blastoderm, observing the embryo in the very first hours of incubation (1577).


"I have divers times endeavoured to see and to know, what parts the Blood consists of; and at length I have observ'd, taking some Blood out of my own hand, that it consists of small round globuls [sic] driven through a Crystalline humidity or water." Antonie van Leeuwenhoek. From his 3rd letter to the Royal Society of London dated 7 April (2494)

Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (NL) in his 3rd letter to the Royal Society of London, dated 7 April and his 7th letter dated 19 October, described examining his blood and that of a rabbit and finding what were obviously erythrocytes. In the third letter he discovered, but did not understand, the coccidia when he described bodies in the bile ducts of rabbits that were without doubt the oocysts of Eimeria stiedae. He spent some considerable time describing the globules (cells) of blood (752, 2493, 2494, 2498, 2529, 2530). See, Jan Swammerdam, 1658, and Giovanni Alfonso Borelli, 1680.

Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (NL), 7 September 1674, reported to the Royal Society of London his account of the anatomy of the eye and optic nerve of a cow (he reported the nerve to be solid, not hollow as had been believed since Galen), the appearance of various minerals, e.g. salt, clay, English and Flemish earth, and about protozoa in stagnant water (2496, 2497, 2506).

Clifford Dobell (GB), writing in 1923, says of Leeuwenhoek, “…he was the first protozoologist and he created bacteriology and protozoology out of nothing” (751).

Etienne J. Morel (FR) is credited with the first use of the tourniquet in medical treatment. This occurred during the Seige of Besancon, in 1674 (561).

A smallpox (red plague) epidemic affects London.


“If I have seen farther [than you and Descartes] it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.” From a letter sent by Issac Newton to Robert Hooke, 5th of February 1675 (1771)

Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (NL), a draper and minor politician, wrote the Royal Society in London as follows: “I can’t forebear to tell you also, most noble sirs, that one of the back teeth in my mouth got loose again, and bothered me much in eating: so I decided to press it hard on the side with my thumb, with the idea of making the roots start out of the gum, so as to get rid of the tooth; which I succeeded in doing, for the tooth was left hanging to only a small bit of flesh, and I was able to snip it off very easily. The crown of this tooth was nearly all decayed, while its roots consisted of two branches, so that the very roots were uncommon hollow, and the holes in them were stuffed with a soft matter.

I took this stuff out of the hollows in the roots, and mixed it with clean rain-water, and set it before the magnifying glass so as to see if there were as many living creatures in it as I had aforetime discovered in such material: and I must confess that the whole stuff seemed to me to be alive” (752).

Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (NL), 26 March 1675, reported to the Royal Society of London his account of the circulation in leaves and compares it to veins in humans (2193).

Johannes Franciscus van Sterbeeck (NL) wrote Theatrum Fungorum oft het Tooneel der Campernoelien, the first book devoted to the fungi (2538). See, Clusius, 1601.

Niels Stensen; Nicholas Stenonis; Nicholas Steno; Nicolaus Steno; Niels Steensen; Nicolaus Steensen (DK) recognized the homology of the mammalian ovary with that of the egg-laying animals (2327).

William Molins (GB) named the trochlear nerve (1692).


“I have oft-times been besought, by divers gentlemen, to set down on paper what I have beheld through my newly invented Microscopia: but I have generally declined: first, because I have no style, or pen, wherewith to express my thoughts properly; secondly, because I have not been brought up to languages or arts, but only to business; and in the third place, because I do not gladly suffer contradiction or censure from others.” Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (2501)

Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (NL), 29 May 1676, reported to the Royal Society of London his observations about the structure of wood, which Dr. Grew questioned; further account of the vessels, fibers, and medullary rays of wood (2192).

Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (NL), 9 October 1676, reported to the Royal Society of London his discovery of five different 'animalcules' (what were most certainly Vorticella, various ciliates, Monas vulgaris, rotifers, flagellates, nematodes, and bacteria) in pepper-infused water and carries out experiments with rain-, well-, moat-, sea-, and river-water, and infusions of various spices; an account of the structure of a peppercorn, wheat, ginger; whether or not there are organisms in the air (2192, 2500).

Nehemiah Grew (GB) described the functions of the stamens and pistils. Grew speaks of the attire, or the stamens, as being the male parts, and refers to conversations with Thomas Millington, Sedleian Professor at Oxford, to whom the credit of the sexual theory may belong. Grew says that “when the attire or apices break or open, the globules or dust falls down on the seedcase or uterus, and touches it with a prolific virtue” (1048).

Samuel Morland (GB), in a paper read before the Royal Society, stated that the farina (pollen) is a congeries of seminal plants, one of which must be conveyed into every ovum or seed before it can become prolific (1715).

Johann Schmidt (DE) gave the first unmistakable description of a paraphasic disorder (use of words in wrong and senseless combinations). In addition he provided one of the first good descriptions of alexia (inability to read; word blindness) (2171).

Peter Rommel (DE) gave one of the best early descriptions of a patient suffering from motor aphasia (loss of the power of speech) (2061).

Richard Wiseman (GB) wrote Severall Chirurgicall Treatises in which he related his considerable experience, mostly military, as a surgeon. It is considered a landmark in British surgery. It was he who initiated the use of compression during treatment of aneurism (2719).

John Ray (GB) had Ornithologia published. Francis Willughby (GB) is credited with being the author. Charles E. Raven (GB) in his biography of Ray concluded that it was Ray who had actually authored the work. This book laid the foundation of scientific ornithology (1982, 1984).


Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (NL) was the first to observe and describe spermatozoa. He first believed them to be parasitic animals living within the semen but later asserted that spermatozoa were capable of developing into a child, with the egg providing only nutrient (2499).

Christiaan Huygens; Christian Huyghens (NL) expressed his sense of the importance of the spermatozoa and their relevance to the generation of animals in announcing their discovery the following year in Paris (1302).

Nicolas Hartsoeker (NL) is sometimes credited as the co-discoverer of spermatozoa because he saw them during 1678 (1115). Hartsoeker believed that spermatozoa contained a microscopic preformed individual. His book contains drawings of spermatozoa containing these individuals. This is the origin of the homunculus.

Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (NL), 14 May 1677, reported to the Royal Society of London his investigations of the structure of muscular tissue, the brain and spinal cord; investigating hemolysis (loss of hemoglobin from the red blood-cells); observations of vascular bundles in fruits and seeds; observations of the effects of moxa, the Chinese remedy against gout; observations of cotton, in particular, its usefulness for bandaging (2501).

John Locke (GB), in a series of letters to Dr. John Mapletoft in 1677, gave an early detailed description of trigeminal neuralgia most likely associated with hemifacial spasm. The patient was the Countess of Northumberland (1498, 1863, 2341).

Johann Jakob Wepfer (CH) gave the first complete case report on trigeminal neuralgia, the most common cranial neuropathy (2673).

Nicolas André (FR) gave the name tic douloureux to trigeminal neuralgia (85).

John Fothergill (GB) described 16 cases of trigeminal neuralgia. For many years thereafter it was called Fothergill's syndrome (909).

Jeremy Stimpson (US) cured tic douloureux by dividing the infra and supra-orbitar 

nerves (2339).

Walter Edward Dandy (US) proposed vascular compression as an etiological factor of trigeminal neuralgia (615).

Thomas Thacher (US) wrote the first medical paper to be published in North America, A Brief RULE To guide the Common People of New England how to order themselves & theirs in the Small-Pocks, or Measels (2402). It was probably not original but rather an abbreviation of the writings of Thomas Sydenham on these subjects (2557).

Another smallpox (red plague) epidemic in Boston was much worse than the 1666 epidemic, and killed several of the town leaders (1396).


“Errors, like straws, upon the surface flow; He who would search for pearls must dive below.” John Dryden, All for Love

Robert Hooke (GB), in 1678, gave his presentation titled, "Lectures and Collections," which was published that same year in his Microscopium. Hooke was the first to suggest the technique of lens immersion. He writes: "that if you would have a microscope with one single refraction, and consequently capable of the greatest clearness and brightness, spread a little of the fluid to be examined on a glass plate, bring this under one of the globules, and then move it gently upward till the fluid touches and adheres to the globule" (1237).

Giovanni Battista Amici (IT) constructed the first microscope with achromatic lenses and suggested water-immersion for improved definition (76). See, Brewster, 1813.

Selligue (FR), Jacques Louis Vincent Chevalier (FR), and Charles Chevalier (FR), in 1823, departed from using only two lenses to correct aberration and employed two or three pairs of lenses, each pair consisting of a plano-concave of flint glass, which dispersed the colors far apart, combined with a double convex of crown glass, which has a low dispersion. In this way excellent achromatic objectives were produced (492, 936). M. Selligue (FR), in 1823, combined up to four achromatic cemented elements into one objective — this was the breakthrough in the manufacture of achromatic microscope objectives with high resolution.

Giovanni Battista Amici (IT) further perfected these achromatic lenses in 1827 (1631).

Joseph Jackson Lister (GB), in 1824, directed the production of achromatic lenses, which were greatly improved (1011).

Giovanni Battista Amici (IT), by 1840, made the first oil immersion lenses. John Mayall, Jr. (GB) reported that these immersion lenses were designed for use with oils having the same refraction as glass, homogeneous-immersion (1632).

John Mayall, Jr. (GB) gives credit to Mr. R.B. Tolles (US) for having first published a formula and constructed a thoroughly workable immersion objective (1219).

Ernst Karl Abbé (DE) developed a mathematical description for the resolution limit of the microscope. The optical resolution d is defined as the minimum distance of two structural elements to be imaged as two objects instead of one. Abbe found that d = λ / NA, where λ (lambda) is the wavelength of light and NA is the numerical aperture of the objective, defined as the sine of the half aperture angle multiplied by the refractive index of the medium filling the space between the cover glass and the front lens. A second important principle of microscope design is known as the Abbe sine condenser. This principle is embodied in the Abbe condenser, used for microscope illumination (15).

Ernst Karl Abbé (DE), in 1868, invented the apochromatic lens system for the microscope. This important breakthrough eliminates both the primary and secondary color distortion of microscopes (17, 18).

Ernst Karl Abbé (DE) published his paper On New Methods for Improving Spherical Correction (16).

Stefano Lorenzini (IT) wrote the first monograph on the general anatomy of a single fish. It includes also the first mention of red and white muscle. He described what became known as the ampullae of Loenzini in fishes. This sense organ, common in cartilaginous fish, helps fish to sense electric fields in the water (electroreceptors) (1529). See, Marcello Malpighi, 1663.

Caspar Bartholin (DK) discovered two bean-sized tubuloalveolar glands situated one in each lateral wall of the vastibulum vaginae, in the lower third of the large labias, near the vaginal opening at the base meiosis of the labia majora. They secrete a mucous lubricating substance during sexual stimulation in females. Bartholin’s glands are the equivalent of Cowper’s glands – the bulbourethtral glands – in males (180, 571).

Caspar Bartholin (DK) discovered the duct draining the anterior portion of the sublingual gland and paralleling Wharton’s duct (180).

Francois Bayle (FR) became interested in arteriosclerosis of blood vessels, ascribing cerebroarteriosclerosis as the chief cause for apoplexy (stroke). He was also an early student of and writer on general paresis or dementia paralytica (207). See, da Vinci, ca. 1490.


Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (NL) in his 28th letter to the Royal Society of London, dated 25 April, gives what was surely a description of spermatozoa (752). He is also reported in a letter to Lambert Velthuysen, dated 11 July, to have discovered the tissue crystals associated with gout (2189). See, William Stukeley, 1734.

Johann Jakob Wepfer (CH) wrote the first book on experimental toxicology, which includes his observations on hemlock poisoning and its remedy: the administration of a strong emetic. He noted that coniine, an alkaloid from hemlock, in minute doses, could be useful as an antineuralgic and antispasmodic. He also discovered its analgesic effect and was the first to use it in minor surgery. He came to the conclusion that blood is not the main cause of the beating of the heart (2672).

Johann Jakob Wepfer (CH), in 1679, discovered the duodenal glands. They would be named Brunner’s glands (glandulae duodenales) for his son-in-law, Johann Konrad Brunner (CH-DE) who, along with Georg Friedrich Franck von Frankenau (DE), reported them at a later date (420, 2674).

Lazare Rivière; Lazarus Riverius; Lazari Riverii (FR), in 1679 during a postmortem examination, was the first too describe congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH (1312, 2039).

Charles Holt (GB), in 1701, described the classical clinical and postmortem findings of an infant with congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH) (1228, 1312).

Théophile Bonet; Theophilus Bonetus (CH) and Stanton A. Théophile Bonet (CH) wrote Sepulchretum as an encyclopedic record of each recognizable disease from ancient times to his own. Each account was accompanied by clinical features followed by a description of the pathological findings at necropsy—some 3,000 protocols (315).

Plague spread from the Ottoman Empire into Austria, killing thousands of people especially in Vienna (1396).

Thomas Sydenham (GB) gives the first accurate description of influenza (2375).

Nouvelles Découvertes, the first medical periodical, was founded.


Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (NL), 14 June 1680, reported to the Royal Society of London what he saw when observing beer yeast (yeast = froth). “I have made divers observations of the yeast from which beer is made and I have generally seen that it is composed of globules floating in a clear medium (which I judged to be the beer itself). Also I saw very plainly that each globule of the yeast consisted of six distinct globules of exactly the same size and shape as the corpuscles of our blood.” This represents the first microscopic study of yeast.

In the same letter he described growth of animalcules in a short glass tube filled almost entirely with pepper and rainwater, then sealed. These organisms were surely capable or growth without oxygen or in severely reduced oxygen tension (2194).

Edward Tyson (GB) wrote, Anatomy of a Porpess, the first comprehensive monograph describing a mammal and the earliest monograph published with the imprimatur of the Royal Society in London in 1680 (2454).

Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (NL), 12 November 1680, reported to the Royal Society of London his observations of the lees in wine; experiments with fermenting wine; comparing the structure of yeast cells with erythrocytes; examining yeast in syrups from an apothecary's shop; observing particles in rain-water; an analysis of chyle from a cow, fat globules in milk, composition of urine; examining particles in air; discusses the function of the heart and the circulation of blood in the body; observations of the trachea of a fly, a flea, and a cockroach; observations of the copulation of cockchafers (Melolontha) and of dragonflies, the spermatozoids of the grasshopper, the gnat, the flea, and of the fly; examination of mites; calculating the number of microorganisms equivalent to a grain of sand (2194).

Giovanni Alfonso Borelli (IT) investigated the microscopic structure of erythrocytes and accurately noted the regularity of stomatal movements in plants. He later demonstrated that locomotion in fish is primarily by the motion of the tail rather than by the fins. He was the first to explain muscular movement and other body functions according to the laws of statics and dynamics. Because of his dedication to understanding medical phenomena through the application of mathematics and mechanics, he became the unwitting founder of the iatro-physical school of medicine. In his studies of animal motion and more specifically muscular contraction he concluded that something was “transmitted along the nerves to the muscles” (324). This is the origin of the neurogenic theory of muscle action.

Collectanea Medico-physica, was founded at Amsterdam.


Denis Papin (FR) described an instrument that was in essence the first commercially available autoclave. It was called Papin’s digester (1835).

Nehemiah Grew (GB), a botanist and physician, wrote a book on the stomachs and intestines of various creatures. He was the first to use the phrase comparative anatomy (1047).

Johann Conrad Peyer (CH) took the hearts of animals recently deceased, including man, and reestablished their beat by blowing air into the veins or by utilizing other stimuli. With some hearts he achieved artificial cardiac activity lasting up to several hours (1885). 

The Dodo (Raphus cucullatus), a giant flightless pigeon, which lived on Mauritius Island in the Indian Ocean, was driven to extinction (2349). 

Richard Owen (GB) was the first to describe the Dodo in the scientific literature. Its bones were found in 1860 (1816).

Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, a.k.a., Lewis Carroll (GB) in his book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, immortalized the Dodo bird.

There is heavy mortality in London from smallpox (red plague).


John Ray (GB) wrote Methodus Plantarum Nova, in which he classified plants by overall morphology: the classification draws on flowers, seeds, fruits, and roots. Ray's plant classification system was the first to distinguish monocots from dicots and the first to elaborate the biological species concept (1985).

Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (NL), March 1682, reported to the Royal Society of London his observations on fibers of muscles of mammals and fish; observations of hair-growth on his hand; discovery of the nucleus in the erythrocytes of fish; investigations on the structure and growth of oyster shells. Writing Robert Hooke and the Royal Society he remarked, "This made me observe the blood of a Cod and of a Salmon, which I also found to contain oval figures as the former, and though I endeavored to examine the same very exactly, I could not find of what parts these ovals were constituted, for some seemed to have enclosed in them in a small space a kind of Globules, and a small space from the said Globule it was surrounded with a transparent ring, and then again about the same ring a long shadowing circle which made up the oval figure, as I have represented in figure 5" (1108, 2194, 2502).

Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (NL), 24 July 1682, reported to the Royal Society of London his continuation of experiments with the air-pump; structure of an insect's wing; blood and 'blood vessels' in an insect's wing; observations of a grey owlet moth; observations of the wing of a very small fly (2190).

Georg Friedrich Franck von Franckenau (DK) and Johann Konrad von Brunner (CH) discovered the mucus secreting glands of the duodenal submucosa (2580).


Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (NL) in his 38th letter to the Royal Society of London, dated 16 July, described dissecting a sick female frog (probably Rana temporaria) and finding in addition to the frog’s blood corpuscles what were most likely the nematode Oxysoma brevicaudatum and the various protozoa including Trichomonas batrachorum, Opalina, and Nyctotherus (752).

Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (NL), 17 September 1683, reported to the Royal Society of London his observations of saliva, his method for cleaning his teeth and the discovery of bacteria in tartar; examination of spittle from people of different ages and sex; observations of nasal hairs and blackheads (comedones); concerning the structure of the epidermis and comparing scabs with fish scales; discussion of pores and calluses (2503, 2505). From his drawings and descriptions it is very likely that he saw Bacillus, Spirillum sputigenum, Micrococci, Leptothrix, and Streptochaeta buccalis.

Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (NL) described the blood capillaries in the intestine of an ox in 1683. This description was accompanied by comments on a different type of capillary, which contained "a white fluid, like milk"; he had discovered the lymphatic capillaries (2504).

Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (NL), 28 December 1683, reported to the Royal Society of London his observations of skin inside his mouth and about his eczema, which he believed sudorifics could cure; observations of a child with a skin disease which causes the skin to become scaly (ichthyosis); observations of the intestines where he identifies blood vessels and lymph vessels; the effects of vinegar; experiment to demonstrate the adsorption of food nutrients in the intestines; an account of the intestinal wall and peristalsis (2191).

Edward Tyson (GB) was the first person to recognize the "head" (scolex) of a tapeworm, and his subsequent descriptions of the anatomy and physiology of the adult worms laid the foundations for our knowledge of the biology of the taeniid tapeworms of humans (2455). He also described the anatomy of the round worm Ascaris (2456).

Francesco Redi (IT) wrote the first book on parasitology (1994). He conducted the first parasitological surveys, described the larva of Taenia taeniaeformis and the structure of Fasciola hepatica.

Philipp Jacob Hartmann; Philip Hartmannus (DE) and Marcello Malpighi (IT) provided the first reliable accounts of cystercerci as parasites of some kind (1113, 1581).

Johann August Ephraim Goeze (DE) recognized the connection between hydatid cysts and tapeworms. Recognized the difference between Taenia solium and Taenia saginata and began the systematics of the helminths (1013).

Johann August Ephraim Goeze (DE) provided the first indications that intermediate hosts were involved in the life cycles of taeniid tapeworms. This emerged from his detailed studies of the pork tapeworm in which he observed that the scolices of the tapeworm in humans resembled cysts in the muscle of pigs (1014).

Félix Dujardin (FR) demonstrated that cysticerci become adult Taenia worms (790).

Gottlob Friedrich Heinrich Küchenmeister (DE), in much-criticized experiments, fed pig meat containing the cysticerci of Taenia solium to criminals condemned to death and recovered adult tapeworms from the intestine after they had been executed (1411, 1413, 1414).

Gottlob Friedrich Heinrich Küchenmeister (DE) is credited with recognizing the differences between Taenia solium and Taenia saginata based on the morphology of the scolex (1412).

John H. Oliver (GB) observed that Taenia saginata tapeworm infections occurred in individuals who had eaten "measly" beef (1790).

Edoardo Perroncito (IT) performed better-designed experiments, which confirmed this finding (1873).

Thomas Sydenham (GB) clearly differentiated gout from rheumatism (2372).

Guichard Joseph du Verney (FR) gave the first scientific account of the structure, function, and diseases of the ear. Du Verney showed that the bony external meatus develops from the tympanic ring and that the mastoid air cells communicate with the tympanic cavity. It was he who first suggested the theory of hearing later developed by, and accredited to Helmholtz (779).

Le Journal de Médicine, was founded in Paris.


Robert Boyle (GB) carried out the first analysis of human blood, checking its properties: color, taste, temperature, combustibility and weight, as well as its components: serous and red portions, volatile and fixed salts, oil, mucus, reddening effect when shaken in the air, etc. This probably represents the earliest attempt to apply analytical chemistry to medicine (352).

Francisco Redi (IT) was the first to appreciate the parasitic nature of the cysts of Echinococcus granulosus (1994).

Peter Simon Pallas (DE) hypothesized that these cysts were the larval stages of tapeworms (1825).

Karl Theodor Ernst von Siebold (DE) demonstrated that hydatid cysts develop into Echinococcus granulosus and that Echinococcus cysts from sheep gave rise to adult tapeworms when fed to dogs (2608).

Bernhard Naunyn (DE) found adult tapeworms in dogs fed with hydatid cysts from a human (1753).

Nehemiah Grew (GB) was the first fingerprint pioneer; besides writing on the subject, he also published extremely accurate drawings of finger patterns and areas of the palm. “If anyone will but take the pains, with an indifferent glass to survey the palm of his hand, he may perceive ... innumerable little ridges, of equal bigness and distance, and everywhere running parallel one with another. And especially, upon the hands and first joints of the fingers and thumb. They are very regularly disposed into spherical triangles and elliptics” (1049).

Govard Bidloo (NL) in his 1685 book on human anatomy discussed and illustrated the recognition of the friction ridges and the pores within those ridges (269).

Marcello Malpighi (IT) was one of the first to examine pores and use a microscope in medicine. He documented his observations of how certain elevated ridges on the ends of the fingers are drawn into spirals. Upon examining these ridges with the microscope he observed and examined the open mouths of eccrine pores (1586).

Johann Christoph Andreas Mayer (DE) wrote in his illustrated textbook, "The arrangement of skin ridges is never duplicated in two persons". Mayer was one of the first scientists to recognize that friction ridges are unique (1633).

Johannes Evangelista Purkinje; Jan Evangelista Purkyne (CZ) wrote a thesis at the University of Breslau in which he mentioned a wonderful arrangement and curving of the minute furrows connected with the organ of touch on the inner surfaces of the hands and feet. He worked at organizing their patterns (1968).

William J. Herschel (GB) began collecting fingerprints in 1859 and took note of how each impression was unique to the individual and observed that the patterns did not change over time (1176).

Henry Faulds (GB) became extremely interested in fingerprints during his mission in Japan, performing experiments, which proved that details of ridges are immutable. In one classical experiment, he removed the skin from the fingers of his patients after fingerprinting them; when the skin regrew on the fingertips he fingerprinted them once more, noting that the ridge detail was exactly the same as it was before the skin was removed. He made two important observations, that 1)“When bloody finger-marks or impressions on clay, glass etc., exist, they may lead to the scientific identification of criminals”, and 2) “A common slate or smooth board of any kind, or a sheet of tin, spread over very thinly and evenly with printer's ink, is all that is required [to take fingerprints]” (845). It is believed that Faulds was the first person to identify finger imprints at crime scenes. Faulds sent to Charles Darwin on February 15, 1880, requesting his aid in obtaining the finger impressions of lemurs, anthropoids, etc., with a view to throw light on human ancestry.

Raymond de Vieussens (FR) proposed that the fibers of the optic nerve continue to the cerebral cortex (718). 

Thomas Willis (GB) was among the first Europeans to recognize the sweet taste of the urine of diabetics and named the disease diabetes mellitus (honey) (2705).

Medicina Curiosa, the first English medical journal, was founded.


Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (NL), in his letter from Delft, 13 July 1685, says, "I have depicted the leaves at such a magnitude that you can see the globules ("tiny spots of different size") that lay within them. Actually, there are much more of these spots than I could depict in the drawing; they are much smaller and not given in the right proportion. After cutting the leaf, those thin globules showed the very beautiful light green color my eyes have ever seen. Some of them were dark green and their color were the black color of wax alike. Fig. BE is the part of the stem and the radix within which only very few green globules could be observed" (2508). Here he undeniably describes chloroplasts. Delft, 13 July 1685, page 7-8.

Paul Portal (FR) was the first to clearly describe the attachment of the placenta to the lower uterine segment in a case of placenta praevia (1929). Before his description it was thought that when the placenta was felt at the cervix in cases of ante partum hemorrhage it had fallen down from its fundal attachment.

Edward Rigby (GB) differentiated between the causes of ante partum hemorrhage (2034). 


John Ray (GB) authored his outstanding three volume botanical work Historia Plantarum in which he describes 18,600 different plant species, all arranged by a natural system of classification. Ray’s work laid the groundwork for the modern form of systematic classification of Carl Linné; Carl von Linné; Carolus Linnaeus. Ray defined species thus: "…no surer criterion for determining species has occurred to me than the distinguishing features that perpetuate themselves in propagation from seed. Thus, no matter what variations occur in the individuals or the species, if they spring from the seed of one and the same plant, they are accidental variations and not such as to distinguish a species... Animals likewise that differ specifically preserve their distinct species permanently; one species never springs from the seed of another nor vice versa" (1986).


John Ray (GB) published Historia Piscium by Francis Willughby (GB). Charles E. Raven (GB) in his biography of Ray concluded that it was Ray who actually authored the work. The manuscript contains 420 species of fish, 178 of these were newly discovered. The fish contained within this informative literature were arranged in a provisional system of classification (1982, 2710).

Marcello Malpighi (IT) separated fibers from clotted blood free of red cells and serum, and identified these using the single-lens microscope (1583).

Willem ten Rhyne (NL) wrote Verhandelingen van de Asiatise Melaatsheid, which is a classic description, etiology, prophylaxis, and therapy of leprosy (2400).

Edmund King (GB) describes at autopsy a calcified pineal gland in one of his insane patients (1380). Note: For many years physicians thought there was a relationship between insanity and a calcified pineal gland.


Giovan Cosimo Bonomo (IT) and Diacinto Cestoni (IT) were most likely the discoverers of the parasitic nature of scabies; both of them were Francesco Redi's disciples. They were reluctant to champion this discovery because powerful aristocratic physicians attributed the etiology to a humoral origin (843, 1995).

Simone-Francois Renucci (FR) proved the etiology of scabies to the satisfaction of Central Europeans. He was taught how to extract the mite by peasant women of his home island (Corsica) and could now show the method to the doctors at l'Hopital St. Louis. This was on 13 August 1834, which is often looked upon as the day when the discovery of the etiology of scabies was made (2020). The scabies mite (acarus or Sarcoptes scabiei) was known to Aristotle, to Arabic medicine, and to European physicians as well as laymen during the later Middle Ages, yet its relationship to the itch was not appreciated.

Johann Ernst Wichmann (DE) established the parasitic etiology of scabies (2688).


Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (NL) in his 65th letter to the Royal Society of London, dated 7 September described what was without doubt capillary circulation. He described two kinds of frogs, of what parts their eggs consist, that tadpoles come from these eggs and how these tadpoles are composed. He described the circulation of blood in six different places in the head of these tadpoles, continual sudden impulses given by the heart to the blood, circulation of the blood in many places in the tail of the tadpole, that what are called arteries and veins are continued blood vessels with arteries and veins crossing each other, that the circulation takes place in the thinnest blood vessels, that circulation of the blood occurs in small and large frogs, how in an artery the blood came running back, and what was the cause of it. The circulation of blood in a little fish, and thirty-four particular circulations in its tail, it also being shown very distinctly that arteries and veins are continued blood vessels. In a part of our skin, the size of a nail, as many as a thousand circulations of the blood take place. The bodies that make the blood of fish red are flat and oval (2195).

England experiences an epidemic of influenza.


“Truth scarce ever yet carried it by vote anywhere at its first appearance: new opinions are always suspected, and usually opposed, without any other reason but because they are not already common… The final struggle for acceptance is the real challenge in achieving knowledge.” John Locke (1518)

Marcello Malpighi (IT) described simple tubular glands present in the mucous membrane of the small and large intestines. They open into the lumen of the intestine (1580).

Johann Nathanael Lieberkühn (DE) would later describe these same glands, which would subsequently be named in his honor, Lieberkühn's glands or crypts (1501).

Richard Morton (GB) first described a clinical condition characterized by nervous consumption caused by sadness and anxious cares. He called it “nervous atrophy” (1718).

William Withey Gull (GB) established the term anorexia nervosa and provided a number of detailed case descriptions and treatments (1070).

Charles Lasèque (FR) named the condition l'anorexie hystérique at about the same time (1447).

Richard Morton (GB) was the first to apply the principles of pathology to the study of pulmonary tuberculosis. Morton showed that the formation of tubercles (a usage he coined) is a necessary part of the development of this lung disease, and pointed out that the tubercles often heal spontaneously. He noted the enlargement of the tracheal and bronchial glands in cases of pulmonary tuberculosis. He introduced the word tubercle to describe the characteristic lesions of the disease, which was at that time called either consumption or phthisis (1718).

Johann Lukas Schönlein (DE) coined the term tuberculosis (2177).

Johannes Bohn (DE) wrote one of the first books on forensic medicine. At that time the best work on fatal injuries, with frequent references of medico-legal importance (312). Bohn is credited with coining the word forensic.


Augustus Quirinus Rivinus; August Bachman (DE), in his Introductio Generalis in Rem Herbariam and three books on the plant orders (which comprised but a small part of the whole projected work on a methodical description of plants) introduced several important innovations which were later used by other botanists. He classified the plants according to the structure of the flower. Like John Ray he extensively used dichotomous keys that led first to the higher groups, which he called higher genera (genus summum) of plant orders (ordo), and then to the lower genera. Alongside Joseph Pitton de Tournefort he was the first to consistently apply the rule according to which the names of all species belonging to the same genus should start with the same word (generic name) (2041-2044).

ca. 1691

Jacques Beaulieu; Frère Jacques (FR) improved the method of lateral lithotomy (1377).


Clopton Havers (GB) discovered the bone canals, which would be named Haversian canals in his honor. Haver's lamellae are the bony septa surrounding the canals (1131).

Thomas Fairchild (GB) was, in 1691, the first person in Europe to create an artificial hybrid by pollination. He transferred the pollen of a Sweet William into the pistil of a Carnation, creating a new plant that became known as ‘Fairchild's mule’ because it is sterile and fails to produce seeds. It caused considerable theological unease that man was 'playing God' when it was presented by Patrick Blair to the Royal Society in 1720 (289). 

Frederik Ruysch (NL) studied the art of making anatomical preparations while in the laboratory of Johannes van Horne and became the unsurpassed master of preserving anatomical preparations (2105). He never revealed the recipes of his preservative solutions.


“There are very few things which we know, which are not capable of being reduc'd to a Mathematical Reasoning... and where a Mathematical Reasoning can be had, it's as great folly to make use of any other, as to grope for a thing in the dark when you have a Candle standing by you.” John Arbuthnot (113)

Robert Boyle (GB) expressed his belief that heat is a form of molecular motion (353). See, Francis Bacon, ca. 1605.

Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (NL), 16 September 1692, reported to the Royal Society of London his examination of the micro-organisms in dental tartar; theories about the reproduction in eels; concerning 'navel blood' of the eel; observations of worms in the intestines of eels; a postscript concerns the blood vessels in grasshoppers. He clearly indicated that he opposed the doctrine of spontaneous generation. "The little animals sitting in the white stuff on the teeth and molars (the plaque), could not endure the heat of my coffee (drink) and they were killed. Like I have shown many times, that the little animals being in the water, died after some heating." (2190, 2505).

Richard Morton (GB) was the first to write on herpes fibrilis (1719).

Guy Patin (FR) was the first to describe myositis ossificans (fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva), an extra-osseous non-neoplastic growth of new bone (1855). It most often occurs in athletes who sustain a blunt injury that causes deep tissue bleeding.

John Freke (GB) described a boy with myositis ossificans progressiva (935).

Bernard Connor; Bernard O’Connor (IE), while in Paris, described a completely fused human spine which he believed came from a church grave yard or charnel house due to its dry condition and red discoloration. This is the first known description of a disease which would later go by many names, including: Bekhterev’s disease, Marie-Stumpell disease, ankylosing spondylitis, ankylosing polyarthritis, atrophic ligamentous spondylitis, and atrophic spondylitis (543, 544).

Benjamin Collins Brodie (GB) became the first physician to document a person believed to have active ankylosing spondylitis who also had accompanying iritis (388).

Vladimir Mikhailovich Bekhterev (RU), Pierre Marie (FR), and Ernst Adolf Gustav Gottfried von Strümpell (EE-DE) were among the first to provide clinical descriptions of this disease (217, 218, 1605, 2615).

Hugh O’Neill McDevitt (US), Michael B.A. Oldstone (US), and Theodore Pincus (US) reported that research evidence strongly supports the concept that certain human leukocyte antigen (HLA) genotypes predispose individuals to diseases such as ankylosing spondylitis, psoriasis, celiac disease, and multiple sclerosis (1640).

Ankylosing spondylitis is a chronic and progressive autoimmune disease condition characterized by arthritis, inflammation, and eventual immobility of a number of joints.


Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (NL), 15 October 1693, reported to the Royal Society of London concerning his examination of the colors of plumes of the feathers of his green parrot; observations of the color of wool; metamorphosis of the pigeon flea; the life cycle of a human flea; anatomy of the legs of a flea (2190).

Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (NL) reported to the Royal Society of London his observations of the testicles and spermatozoids of a rat; observations of organisms in the gills of oysters; observations of organisms in the sap of vines (2507)

John Ray (GB) wrote Synopsis Methodica Animalium Quadrupedum et Serpentini Generis [Synopsis of Quadrupeds and Snakes], in which he disproved Descartes's claim that animals are insentient (unfeeling), questioned the existence of fabulous creatures, and argued against spontaneous generation. This book is one of the first to present a logical classification of animals. Ray grouped amphibians and reptiles together because of the similarity in structure of their hearts. Prior to Ray the term species had various meanings. It was he who gave it its modern and stable meaning, applying it only to groups of similar individuals that exhibit constant attributes from generation to generation (1987).

Herman Boerhaave (NL) discovered the sweat glands (307).


Johann Jacob Harder (CH) discovered a lachrymal type gland (Harderian’s gland) in the orbit of the eye of the fallow deer, Dama vulgaris (1105). These are accessory lachrymal glands at the inner corners of the eyes in animals that possess nictitating membranes; they excrete an unctuous fluid that facilitates the movement of the third eyelid. They are rudimentary in humans.

Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (NL), in a 16 September letter to the Royal Society, describes the blood circulation in the hairy leg of a tiny crab (2531).

Rudolph Jakob Camerarius; Rudolph Jakob Camerer (DE) was the first to convincingly demonstrate that sexuality exists in plants. He demonstrated that anthers are the sex organs in plants, and confirmed through experimentation that pollen was needed for fertilization (441, 442). See, Nehemiah Grew, 1676.

Joseph Gottlieb Kölreuter; Joseph Gottlieb Koelreuter; Josephus Theophilus Kölreuter (DE) published reports describing 136 experiments in artificial hybridization. He found through the discovery of the identity of reciprocal crosses that the contributions of maternal and paternal parents were of the same nature and equal. This refuted not only all theories of preexistence (ovism and spermism), but also the views of investigators from Aristotle to Buffon and Carl Linné; Carl von Linné; Carolus Linnaeus that certain structures of the organism are contributed by the father, and others by the mother. For this discovery he is credited with partially laying the foundation for the work of Mendel.

He gave a detailed account of the importance of insects in flower pollination. That insects may be necessary for pollination in dioecious plants may have occurred to some botanists, but that it is also the normal mode of pollination in most monoecious flowering plants was not appreciated prior to Kölreuter.

He discovered dichogamy (separate maturing of the male and female parts of a flower, which precludes self-fertilization) and why hybridization is rare in nature, observing that there exists a special affinity between the pollen and the female portions of conspecific flowers that permits the pollen tube to grow much faster into the style than pollen tubes produced by pollen of other species. His work in the breeding of tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum) led to the conclusion that the genetic contribution of the male and female parents are equal (1399). This work was done from 1761-1766 but not published until 1893. He is commemorated by the genus Koelreuter.

Christian Konrad Sprengel (DE) independently reached many of the same conclusions as Kölreuter. He reported: that flower structure can be interpreted only by considering the role of each part in relation to insect visits; that color and scent are attractants; corolla markings are guides to the hidden nectar; grasses have light pollen and are wind pollinated. He also discovered dichogamy which led him to conclude that, “Nature appears not to have intended that any flower should be fertilized by its own pollen” (2300). In the context of the flowering plants (angiosperms), there are two forms of dichogamy: protogyny—female function precedes male function—and protandry—male function precedes female function. He is commemorated by the plant genus Sprengelia (1794).

Christian Konrad Sprengel (DE) wrote on the importance of beekeeping vis-à-vis pollination (2301).

Giovanni Battista Amici (IT) concluded, from microscopic observations, that pollen tubes grow down through the style and contact the ovules (73, 74). (The Italian edition was originally published in 1823.)

Jean-Louis Prévost (CH) and Jean Baptiste André Dumas (FR) repeated Lazzaro Spallanzani's filtration experiments, thus confirming the necessity of spermatozoa for fertilization They studied the maturation of sperm in the frog’s testicle and the fertilization of the ovum together with its subsequent segmentation. This gives them the distinction of being the first to describe cell division (1945, 1946). Note: Spallanzani had incorrectly concluded that the fluid portion of semen is responsible for fertilization.

Adolphe-Théodore Brongniart (FR) repeated the investigations of Jean Pierre Étinne Vaucher (CH) by following fertilization in plants all the way to the fusion of the male and female germ cells. He confirmed and generalized the existence of the pollen tube; he also named the embryo sac and adopted the theory of epigenesis. He provided a description of his discovery of the tetrads, which appear during male sporogenesis, and the distinction between the fertilized egg and the seed (392). See, Robert Brown, 1831.

Martin Barry (GB) provided evidence (in the rabbit) that the spermatozoon enters the mammalian egg during fertilization (178).

Giovanni Battista Amici (IT), working with Orchis, produced decisive evidence that the plant embryo arises from the germinal vesicle within the embryo sac after it is stimulated by the pollen tube (75). Wilhelm Friedrich Benedikt Hofmeister (DE), two years later, confirmed this observation in 38 species among 19 genera (1217).

Nicholas A. Warneck (RU) while studying fertilization in freshwater gastropods observed pronuclei in fertilized eggs. He did not appreciate their significance (2641).

George Newport (GB) noted that during fertilization in higher animals impregnation of the ovum by the spermatozoon is by penetration and not just by contact as previously thought (1768).

Charles Robert Darwin (GB) wrote a book that propelled floral ecology into respectability (620).

Eduard Adolf Strasburger (PL-DE) postulated that only one sperm cell of the fern is involved in fertilization; that it passes down the neck of the archegonium, comes into contact with the egg cell, penetrates it, and dissolves there (2344).

Leopold Auerbach (DE) reported the de novo appearance of two pronuclei in the fertilized egg cell and their subsequent fusion to form the cleavage nucleus. ''Suddenly the borderline between both nuclei disappears, '' he wrote, "and they become united to a single mass" (134).

Eduard Adolf Strasburger (PL-DE) reported observing the union of nuclei when sex cells of plants joined in the course of fertilization (2345).

Wilhelm August Oskar Hertwig (DE) and Hermann Fol (CH) observed that the sperm cell penetrates the egg and that the sperm nucleus appears to fuse with the egg nucleus. Fol concluded that the germinal vesicle underwent two rapid divisions and that only one nucleus, the female pronucleus, remained in the egg, the others being expelled. He also described the actual penetration of a single sperm into the egg, where, he explained, it fused with some egg protoplasm to form the male pronucleus. This pronucleus then traversed the egg to unite eventually with the female pronucleus. Fol, in 1879, proved that fertilization has to be accomplished by a single spermatozoon (889-893, 1177-1179). Hertwig made his observations in the sea urchin, Toxopneustes lividus, while Fol used sea star, sea urchin, and acorn worm.

Emil Selenka (DE) appreciated that the male pronucleus is the metamorphosed spermatozoon (2205).

Eduard Adolf Strasburger (PL-DE) described the nuclear divisions, beginning within the megaspore mother cell, leading to the formation of a mature embryo sac containing the egg nucleus (2346).

Eduard Adolf Strasburger (PL-DE), working with orchids, mostly Orchis latifolia, discovered the actual process of syngamy, or the fusion of the male and female gametes in plants. He described the division of the microspore nucleus in such a way as to give rise to three nuclei, one tube nucleus and two male gametic nuclei. He showed that after the pollen tube penetrates the micropyle opening it discharges two of its nuclei into the embryo sac and that one of the two male nuclei fuses with the egg nucleus. Apparently, he did not observe the fusion of the male sperm nucleus with female nuclei leading to the formation of the endosperm, i.e., double fertilization (2347).

August Friedrich Leopold Weismann (DE) proposed the concept of the continuity of the germ plasm. Even in multicellular organisms each organism could be traced back to an egg (and sperm) that was a living part of a living organism that could itself be traced back to an egg (and a sperm) and so on for as far back as life existed. To quote Samual Butler, a contemporary English writer, “A hen is only an egg’s way of producing another egg” (433).

Weismann performed a well-known experiment that helped to discredit the idea that acquired characteristics could be inherited. He cut the tails off 1,592 mice over twenty-two generations and showed that all continued to bear young with full-sized tails. (The Bible contains documentation of a similar, much more protracted, experiment performed on male children, i.e., circumcision.)

He suggested that chromosomes contain the hereditary machinery and that their careful division during cell fission must maintain the machinery intact. He further suggested that the germ plasm is halved when sperm and egg are formed and that the process of fertilization restores the original quantity. “At least one certain result follows, viz., that there is an hereditary substance, a material bearer of hereditary tendencies, and that this substance is contained in the nucleus of the germ-cells, and in that part of it which forms the nuclear thread, which at certain periods appears in the form of loops or rods. We may further maintain that fertilization consists in the fact that an equal number of loops from either parent are placed side by side, and that the segmentation nucleus [the embryo’s nucleus] is composed in this way. It is of no importance, as far as this question is concerned, whether the loops of the two parents coalesce sooner or later, or whether they remain separate. The only essential conclusion demanded by our hypothesis is that there should be complete or approximate equality between the quantities of hereditary substance derived from either parent.

If then the germ-cells of the offspring contain the united-plasms of both parents, it follows that such cells can only contain half as much paternal germ-plasm as was contained in the germ-cells of the mother” (2658-2660, 2662-2664).

Eduard Adolf Strasburger (PL-DE) showed that fertilization in plant species also required the penetration of a single male germ cell into an egg cell (2348).

Edouard Adolf Strasburger (PL-DE) found that sperm fuse with the egg nucleus but not with the polar nuclei (2348).

Eduard Adolf Strasburger (PL-DE) observed that the process of fertilization comprises the union of the nucleus of the male gamete with that of the egg; the cytoplasm of the gametes is not concerned in the process; and the sperm nucleus and egg nucleus are true nuclei. He concluded that the physical basis of inheritance must be the chromosomes (2348).

August Friedrich Leopold Weismann (DE) noted that the complex cytological events leading up to the formation of the germ cells were of fundamental importance to the interpretation of sexual reproduction. They represented, according to Weismann, ''the attempt to bring about as ultimate a mixture as possible of the hereditary units [the ids] of both father and mother." Therefore, sexual reproduction was the means of introducing variation into the population; it provided the raw material upon which natural selection acted. Not only was sexual reproduction totally different from asexual reproduction, but also it was absolutely essential to the whole evolutionary story (2661).

Sergius Gavrilovich Nawaschin; Sergey Gavrilovich Navashin (RU) and Jean-Louis-Léon Guignard (FR) independently showed that in angiosperms two male gametic nuclei produced in the pollen tube enter the embryo sac and participate in fertilization, one fusing with the ovicell (egg nucleus) and the other with the embryo sac (two polar nuclei), i.e., double fertilization (1065, 1754-1756).

Ethel Sargant (GB) gave some of the first evolutionary viewpoints on double fertilization (2124).

Jacques Loeb (DE-US) demonstrated that fertilization of sea urchin eggs does not occur in the absence of calcium ions (1522, 1524).

Wilhelm August Oskar Hertwig (DE) made the general observation that in both plants and animals the essential feature of fertilization is the union of two nuclei, one supplied by each parent (1180). 

Joseph Pitton de Tournefort (FR) authored Elémens de Botanique followed in 1700 by Institutiones Rei Herbariæ. In these books he contributes to the field of botany the concept of genus in the modern sense. Tournefort determines genus according to two criteria (flower and fruit) and classifies the plants by examining the flowers (in priority, the corolla), the sheets, the roots, the stems and savor. He was the first to attempt to arrange all petaliferous plants into genera based on the corolla (714, 715). Pittonia is named in his honor.

A clear account of herpes labialis as a distinct clinical entity is presented (259).

Pieter Andriannszoon Verduyn; Verduuin (NL) introduced the first non-locking, below knee prosthesis (2060).

Nehemiah Grew (GB) advocated the use of Epsom salts for purging (1050).


Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (NL) may have been the first to see cells in human milk (2532).

Humphrey Ridley (GB) described the restiform body (a column shaped region within the medulla oblongata which connects the posterior roots of spinal nerves with the cerebellum). He injected mercury and tinged wax into the cerebral veins of freshly executed criminals, taking advantage of the considerable venous engorgement to demonstrate the anatomy of the venous plexus of the skull base. His work is reflected in the naming of the circular sinus the “Ridley sinus.” He points out the various branches supplying the fourth ventricle and plexus choroideus, gives the first accurate description of the fifth cranial nerve ganglion and its 3 branches, which several years later was confirmed by Jacques B. Winslow who termed it “nerf trijmeaux” (trigeminal nerve). Ridley notes that within the styliform process, where the carotid artery does indeed enter the long canal, to the place where it perforates the dura mater to enter the brain, there is not one branch sent out from it. He then described the intracranial origin and distribution of the meningeal arteries, briefly mentioning the labyrinthine artery or the internal auditory artery, described the ophthalmic artery and a vein attendant to it as they both pass the os cuneiforme all the while discussing the precise origins of the branches of the carotid artery.

Ridley observed that the cerebral veins do not run concomitantly with their corresponding arteries, and he recognized this difference from the other parts of the body. He was the first to point out the existence of what we know today as the cerebellomedullary cistern, the quadrigeminal cistern, and the olfactory cistern.

Ridley described the presence of the choroid plexus in the third and the fourth ventricles and pointed out the differential permeability of the cerebral blood vessels toward a substance (wax/mercury) injected into the bloodstream (evidence of a blood/brain barrier).

Ridley was the first to describe a pineal tumor. He gave us the first accurate description of the fornix and its pathways (2033). Note: This work is the first treatise focused on neuroanatomy published in the English language. It is also a heroic document in anatomical research.

Martin Lister (GB) described the anatomy of the scallop (1517).


Georg Ernst Stahl (DE) showed that vinegar could be concentrated by freezing out part of the water (repetition of the freezing process yielded acetic acid crystals), and better, in 1702, by neutralizing the acid with an alkali and distilling the salt with oil of vitriol (2).

Jean Francois Durande (FR) in editing Morveau's Handbook of Chemistry in 1777, names the solid crystalline form of acetic acid, glacial, a name still used.

Georg Ernst Stahl (DE) developed the idea that fermentation is essentially an upheaval in the internal composition of bodies. He further observed that the upheaval was communicable to other fermentable or putrescible substances. Stahl recognized three kinds of fermentation, viz., (a) the fermentation of wine, beer, and bread; (b) acetic fermentation; (c) putrefaction and decomposition.

He presented the phlogiston theory which proposed that combustible substances are compounds rich in phlogiston and that combustion is due to the phlogiston leaving the other structures of the substance behind. Although incorrect this theory was important because it stimulated much research and represents the first important generalization in chemistry. With the discovery of oxygen, the theory was abandoned (2, 2306, 2308).

Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (NL) met with Peter the Great, Czar of Russia, and showed him various things through the microscope including the marvelous blood circulation in the tail of an eel (2535).


Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (NL), 9 May 1698, reported to the Royal Society of London his observations of the compound eye of a beetle and calculations about the number of facets; observations through the human cornea; observations of the legs, cornea and ommatidia of a drone fly; observations of the brain of a gnat (2509).

William Cowper (GB) discovered the gland that would be named in his honor—Cowper’s gland (570). Cowper blatantly plagiarized most of this work from Govard Bidloo’s book of 1685.

Edward Tyson (GB) reported a perforated gastric ulcer found in an American opossum (2457).


Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (NL), 25 September 1699, reported to the Royal Society of London his observations of the circulation of blood in tadpoles: blood vessels; clotting; computation of quantity of flowing blood, capillaries (2513).

L. Christoph Hellwig (DE) was the first to demonstrate a pathogen accompanying a seed. He noticed that outbreaks of ergot (Claviceps purpurea) on rye followed the sowing of ergot-infected seeds (1156).

John Woodward (GB) discovered and reported the phenomenon of transpiration in plants (2738).

Edward Tyson (GB) wrote one of the first comparative anatomy books. In it he reported the first recorded dissection of a great ape (a chimpanzee) remarking that the body of this animal resembles that of a man far more closely “than any of the ape kind, or any other animal in the world, that I know of” (2458).

Charleston, South Carolina had an epidemic, the first there to be positively identified as yellow fever; probably about 160-190 died (1396).

ca. 1700

Richard Wiseman (GB) wrote on many surgical subjects including amputation and compression of aneurism (2720).


Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (NL) in his 125th letter to the Royal Society of London, dated 2 June, described examining the stomach of a shrimp and finding a foraminiferan, most likely Polystomella (752). Robert Hooke (GB) was the first to observe these foraminiferans.

Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (NL), in his letter of 9 July to the Royal Society of London, recounts his observations of blood circulation in the flounder; on red blood corpuscles of flounder and salmon, their oval form and the way they change shape to pass through capillaries; on blood vessels; observations of the sperm of a young cock (2512).

Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (NL), 2 January1700, reported to the Royal Society of London his observations of liver fluke; on the larvae of gnats; observations of a species of green algae belonging to the genus Volvox; observations of circulation of blood in a frog and micro-organisms in its feces (2511).

Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (NL), 26 October 1700, reported to the Royal Society of London his observations comparing the parthenogenetic procreation of aphids with spermatozoa (2510).

An English trader of the East India Company reported to the Royal Society in London that the Chinese inoculated against the smallpox by “opening the pustules of one who had the Small Pox ripe upon him and drying up the Matter with a little Cotton, … and afterwards put it up the nostrils of those they would infect” (1019).

Antonio Vallisnieri; Antonio Vallisneri (IT) proved that certain plant galls are caused by larval insects arising from eggs deposited in the plants by their parent (2471, 2475).

Giorgio Baglivi (Yugoslavian) experimented with restarting hearts from animals recently deceased. He concluded that the heart dies not from lack of nervous fluid but from lack of blood. He also distinguished between smooth muscles and striated muscles based on their fiber structure (153, 154).


Diphtheria is endemic and epidemic in Spain.


Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (NL), 6 December 1701, reported to the Royal Society of London his observations of the sperm of young cocks; life span of these spermatozoa to fertilize a hen's egg (2516).

Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (NL), in his letter of June 21, 1701, reported to the Royal Society of London his observations of capillaries in the retina of the eye, blood cells within these capillaries, floaters within the eye, and flagellated fish sperm (2514).

Nicolas Andry de Bois-Regard (FR) produced the first illustrations of the parasitic worm, Taenia (87).

Giacomo Pylarini (GR) modified the oriental method of ingrafting (variolation) by removing matter from the pustule and rubbing it into a small needle scratch in the patient’s skin. Emanuel Timonius (GR) communicated Pylarini's method to a London physician, Dr. John Woodward, who had it published (2426).

Robert Houstoun (GB) performed the first successful ovariotomy.  The patient was Margaret Millar of Renfrewshire, Scotland. Houstoun presented the case before the Royal Society in London in 1724 (1560).


Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (NL) originated the concept of “resuscitation of lifeless desiccated microorganisms,” also known as anabiosis or cryptobiosis, when he demonstrated that some little animalcules (probably tardigrades and rotifers) could be kept dry for several months without showing any signs of life and then brought back to active life with the mere addition of rain water (752).

Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (NL) in his 144th letter to the Royal Society of London, dated 9 February, described examining water from a lead gutter on his home and finding what were very likely two phytoflagellates, Haematococcus pluvialus (Sphaerella lacustris) and Chlamydomonas, and a ciliate Coleps (752).

Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (NL), 28 April 1702, reported to the Royal Society of London his observations of protozoa in rain water; observations of air bubbles in rain water; observations of the circulation of blood in an eel (2517).

Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (NL) reported to the Royal Society of London his observations of duckweed, its roots and reproduction; observations of ciliates, vorticellids and rotifera and the budding of hydra, an asexual form of procreation, all of which are attached to duckweed (2515, 2518, 2520, 2525).

Louis Lémery (FR) established the presence of iron in the ash of blood (1488, 2630).

Vincenzo Menghini (IT) proved that the level of iron in the blood could be increased by feeding animals iron-containing food (1662).

Johannes Petrus Müller (DE), in 1838, suggested that oxidation takes place not in the blood but in the tissues (1734). 

Karl Vierordt (DE) stated the facts of internal respiration: that oxidation takes place in the tissues; and that the blood transports oxygen to the tissues, and takes carbon dioxide away from the tissues (2620).

Karl Bogislaus Reichert (DE) saw red tetrahedral crystals in the blood of a dissected guinea pig. He observed that these seemed to be protein-like and attempted to demonstrate such. Hemoglobin was therefore the first protein to be observed in a crystalline form (2003). This was ninety years before Sumner accidentally crystallized urease.

Otto Funke (DE) devised the first techniques for intentionally crystallizing blood (hemoglobin) crystals (948).

Lothar Meyer (DE) discovered the high affinity of oxygen for hemoglobin at low partial pressures and confirmed that blood transports both carbon dioxide and oxygen (1672, 1673).

Claude Bernard (FR) showed that the poisonous action of carbon monoxide lay in its ability to displace oxygen in its combination with hematoglobin (hemoglobin). The body could not counter this quickly enough to prevent death by oxygen-starvation. This was the first successful explanation of the specific manner in which a drug acted on the body (251).

Ernst Felix Immanual Hoppe-Seyler (DE) used spectrophotometric analysis of blood and determined that there is strong absorption around Fraunhofer lines D and E (5600 and 5350 angstroms). He proved that hemoglobin, which he named, is the only pigment in erythrocytes (1241).

Ernst Felix Immanual Hoppe-Seyler (DE) crystallized and renamed the protein hematoglobulin (Berzelius), hemoglobin. Heme is from the Greek meaning blood and referred to the red portion while globin referred to the colorless protein left when the heme portion was removed. He demonstrated that hemoglobin solutions take up oxygen to form oxyhemoglobin and introduced the term prosthetic group to designate the hematin (iron protoporphyrin) portion of hemoglobin (1242).

Eduard Friedrich Wilhelm Pflüger (DE) showed conclusively that metabolism takes place in peripheral tissues and that the blood simply transports the respiratory gases (1888).

Max Josef Pettenkofer (DE), Karl Voit (DE) and Hermann Lossen (DE) were probably among the first to incline physiologists to the belief that respiration is not the cause of metabolism, but the result of the needs of the metabolism (1531, 1883).

Nathan Zuntz (DE) and Eduard Friedrich Wilheim (DE) recognized that carbon dioxide, unlike oxygen, is not carried by hemoglobin, but that hemoglobin is nevertheless an essential factor in the transportation of this gas by the blood. They showed that in the blood carbon dioxide is combined with bases, chiefly as sodium bicarbonate. They thus demonstrated, for the first time, what is now generally, but rather unwisely, called the alkaline reserve (2771, 2772).

This mode of transportation of carbon dioxide is one of the most extraordinary features of the blood and respiration. The evidence for it rests upon two facts demonstrated by Eduard Friedrich Wilhelm Pflüger and others during the great epoch of German physiology in the second half of the 19th century. One of these facts is that the blood plasma, if separated from its corpuscles, will part with little of its carbon dioxide even in the presence of a vacuum. The other fact is that all the carbon dioxide in the plasma, both that in simple solution and that combined with alkali into the bicarbonates comes off readily if the red corpuscles of the blood are present. Thus, the hemoglobin of the red corpuscles, by supplying or recombining with alkali, dominates the capacity of the plasma to transport carbon dioxide; it thus enables the blood to take up this gas in the tissues and to give it off in the lungs under very slight differences of pressure (1889, 1890).

Eduard Friedrich Wilhelm Pflüger (DE) claimed all gas exchanges within the body tissues could be explained solely by diffusion (1891).

Oscar Zinoffsky (CH) determined the empirical formula of horse hemoglobin as C712 H1130 N214 O245 S2 Fe. He concluded that the minimal molecular weight of hemoglobin is 16,700 (2764).

Gerardus Johannes Mulder; Gerrit Jan Mulder (NL) and van Goudoever (NL), in 1844, reported the elemental combustion analysis of and suggested a formula (C44H44N6O6Fe) for the substance Mulder called hematin, and for its iron free derivative C44H44N6O6 (1730).

Carl Gustav von Hüfner (DE) reported experimental evidence that 1.34 ml of oxygen combined with one gram of crystalline hemoglobin; this was precisely the same as his theoretic value based on the iron content that he had also determined (2596).

Count Karl Axel Hampus Mörner (SE) and Hans Günther (DE) established muscle hemoglobin as a distinct protein different from blood hemoglobin. Günther named it myoglobin in 1921 (1074, 1716). 

Christian Harald Lauritz Peter Emil Bohr (DK), Karl Albert Hasselbalch (DK), and Schack August Steenberg Krogh (DK) discovered that if percent of oxygen saturation of blood hemoglobin is plotted versus the partial pressure of oxygen (in mm mercury) a sigmoid curve is obtained. They found also that the blood level of carbon dioxide effects the slope of this sigmoid curve and reasoned that as blood reaches the tissues and its oxygen content begins to drop, the carbon dioxide it is picking up, at the same time, drives the affinity of blood for oxygen down further. This influence of carbon dioxide on the binding of oxygen by hemoglobin is called the Bohr Effect (313, 1409).

William Küster (DE) suggested that in both hemoglobin and oxyhemoglobin the iron is in the divalent (ferro) state, whereas the iron of methemoglobin is in the trivalent (ferri) state (1422). Verify

Edward Tyson Reichert (US) and Amos Peaslee Brown (US) determined that the hemoglobin crystals of various species were virtually unique and could be distinguished one from the other by angles or axial ratio and optical characters (2001).

Archibald Vivian Hill (GB) reported on the combinations of hemoglobin with oxygen and with carbon monoxide and found that the sigmoid curve obtained when oxygen pressure is plotted versus oxyhemoglobin concentration of the blood is due to hemoglobin existing as a complex with subunits, oxygen uptake by one unit promoting the uptake of oxygen by other subunits (1195). John W. Severinghaus (US) modified an oxyhemoglobin dissociation curve proposed by Archibald Vivian Hill (GB), thereby providing a remarkably accurate standard dissociation curve with a maximum error of plus or minus 0.5% saturation from 0 to 100% (2232). 

Joseph Barcroft (GB), Johanne Christiansen (GB), Claude G. Douglas (GB), and John Scott Haldane (GB) demonstrated that the loss of hemoglobin’s affinity for oxygen as it moved to the tissues was only in part due to the direct action of carbon dioxide. The major impact came from protons released as carbon dioxide combined with blood water to form carbonic acid and from temperature (168, 501).

Richard Martin Willstätter (DE), Arthur Stoll (CH), Hans Fischer (DE), and Hans Orth (DE) explained the details of their discoveries of the structure of heme (865, 866, 2708, 2709).

Joseph Barcroft (GB) Carl A. Binger (GB), Arlie V. Bock (GB), James Hamilton Doggart (GB), H.S. Forbes (GB), George A. Harrop, Jr. (GB), Jonathan C. Meakins (GB), Alfred C. Redfield (GB), Harold Whitridge Davies (GB), James Matthews Duncan Scott (GB), W.J. Duncan Fetter (GB), Cecil D. Murray (GB), and Arthur Keith (GB) obtained evidence to support his hypothesis that exchange of substances through the epithelium of the lungs and the tissues occurs by simple diffusion (168, 169).

John Scott Haldane (GB) demonstrated that carbon monoxide competes with oxygen to bind with hemoglobin in a loose, reversible manner (1084).

James Bryant Conant (US) showed that under normal conditions the iron in hemoglobin remains in the ferrous state regardless of whether the molecule has taken on or released oxygen. He suggested that blood exists in oxygenated and deoxygenated states rather than in reduced and oxidized states. Conant demonstrated that methemoglobin is truly an oxidized form of hemoglobin with its iron in the ferric state (541). James Bryant Conant (US) and Louis Frederick Fieser (US) would experimentally demonstrate that this was correct leading to the realization that oxyhemoglobin is the oxygenated form, rather than the oxidized form, while methemoglobin is the oxidized form (542).

Arlie V. Bock (US), Henry Field, Jr. (US), and Gilbert Smithson (US) first described the oxygen-hemoglobin dissociation curve. This report was based on David Bruce Dill’s (US) analysis of the blood of one man, Arlie Bock (302).

Hans Fischer (DE) and his students, in 1929, discovered that the heme group of hemoglobin is composed of four pyrrole rings (each consisting of four carbon atoms and one nitrogen atom) arranged in a larger ring. They eventually located every atom in its complex structure (864).

Felix Haurowitz (CZ-US), Adolf Winkler (CZ), and Franz Kraus (CZ) were the first to isolate fetal hemoglobin. They crystallized it and determined its affinity for oxygen (1128).

Alfred Chanutin (US), Richard R. Curnish (US), Reinhold Benesch (US), and Ruth E. Benesch (FR-DE-US) reported that organic phosphates lower the oxygen affinity of dilute solutions of human hemoglobin. The effects of 2,3-diphosphoglycerate (DPG) (and ATP, to a lesser extent) were exerted at concentrations comparable to those within human red cells (234, 484).

Georg Ernst Stahl (DE) gives the original description of lachrymal fistula (2307).

Yellow fever struck New York, killing more than 500 people over a three-month period, which was probably about 10% of the population at the time (1396).

Smallpox (red plague) hit Boston again. This time about 300 died, but a simultaneous outbreak of scarlet fever makes it difficult to assess who died from what (1396).


Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (NL) in his 150th letter to the Royal Society of London, dated 5 February, described what was probably the colonial flagellate Anthophysa vegetans (752).

Charles Plumier (FR) dedicated the plant genus Magnolia to a Professor Peter Magnol (FR) (1926). Plumeria, an American tree or shrub of the family Apocynaceae, was named in Plumier’s honor


“The course of nature…seems delighted with transmutations.” Isaac Newton (1770)

William Cowper (GB) described aortic valve regurgitation as follows: “The Valves of the Great Artery…were Petrify'd, insomuch that they could not approach each other…. But an Orifice…remain'd always open by the Petrifactions…which had clogg'd these Valves, and hindered their application to each other…. These Valves…are rendered more or less useless: For as their Offise is to prevent the return of the Blood into the Heart, in its Diastole…the consequences must be, not only a regurgitation of Blood into the Heart, but they baulk its impulsive force” (572).


Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (NL), 24 April 1705, reported to the Royal Society of London his observations of a fern (Polypodium interjectum Shivas); observations of the seed capsules (sori), the sporangia (grouped within the sori) and spores (contained within the sporangia); experiment to open and close the sporangia (2519).

Robert Hooke (GB) offered the correct explanation for the mechanism underlying the formation of fossils (1238).

Leonardo da Vinci (IT) made a similar observation in his notebook written nearly 100 years earlier but did not publish this observation (609).

Walter Harris (GB) in his famous book on pediatrics anticipated the modern treatment of tetany by using calcium salts in infantile convulsions (1111).

Antonio Pacchioni (IT) determined the structure and functions of the dura mater and described the arachnoidal, or so-called, Pacchioni granulations (1819, 1820).

Jean-Louis Petit (FR) wrote the first important book on diseases of the bone. In it he relates the first account of softening of the bones and of the formation of clots in arteries following ligation. He also invented the screw tourniquet (1878, 1879).


Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (NL), in his letter of 20 April, 1706, reported to the Royal Society of London his observations of the intestines of a woman who had been hanged: an account of the various layers and fibers of the colon (2522).

Charleston, South Carolina was struck by yellow fever again. About 5% of the population died (1396).


John Floyer (GB) published Pulse-Watch, the first scientific study of the pulse (888).

There is a pandemic of influenza in Europe.


Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (NL) in a letter of 28 August 1708, and a subsequent letter, reported to the Royal Society of London concerning the circulation of blood within fish (2521, 2523).


Jean-Louis Petit (FR) reported successful surgical intervention in a patient with a strangulated hernia (1881).


John Ray (GB) wrote Historia Insectorum (1988).

Antonio Vallisnieri; Antonio Vallisneri (IT) proved that parasitic worms in humans do not arise spontaneously, but grow from eggs (2472). 

A severe smallpox (red plague) epidemic occurs in England.


Louis Joblot (FR) became the first person to use heated infusions to test the doctrine of spontaneous generation. On 13 October, 1711, he wrote, “ I boiled some similar hay in ordinary water for more than one quarter of an hour. Afterwards I put equal quantities of it in two vessels of approximately the same size. One of them I closed as well as I could with parchment well soaked and even before it was cooled; the other I left uncovered. In this I found animals at the end of several days but not one in the infusion, which had been stoppered. I kept it thus closed for a considerable time in order that I might discover any living insects if they should have appeared in it but having found none of them I finally unclosed it and at the end of several days I then found some in it, and this shows that these animals had developed from eggs dispersed in the air since such as might have happened to be on the hay had been completely destroyed in the boiling water” (1329).

Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (NL) in his letter of 22 September 1711, to the Royal Society of London described his observations of the structure and habits of a variety of mites (2524).


Bernardino Ramazzini (IT) wrote a classic in epidemiology when he investigated the rinderpest epidemic of 1710/1711 that decimated the cattle flocks of the peasants and threatened the food supply to the Republic of Venice (1974).


Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (NL) in his 7th letter to the Royal Society of London, dated 28 June, gives what was surely the first description of ciliary motion (752).

John Ray (GB) wrote Joannis Raii Synopsis Methodica Avium & Piscium (1989). One of Ray’s greatest contributions to science was to bring order to the chaotic mass of names in use by the naturalists of his time.

John Ray (GB) wrote the third edition of Three Physico-Theological Discourses in which he rejected the belief that fossils were brought in by the Deluge and states that they were at one time at the bottom of the sea and that the earth above them was deposited as sediment (1990).

Antonio Vallisnieri; Antonio Vallisneri (IT), in studies on the ostrich, ascertained the presence of an active digestive agent in gastric juice (2475).

Antonio Vallisnieri; Antonio Vallisneri (IT) confirmed Malpighi's observation that plant parasites, far from being of vegetal origin, laid eggs in the plant buds (2473).

Michael Bernhard Valentini (DE), using his “schema pulsuum”, was possibly the first to use a pulse theory in the general practice of medicine (2470).

Dominique Anel (FR), to relieve a fistula, performed lachrymal duct catheterization for the first time (89).


Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (NL) applied an alcoholic solution of Crocus (likely the dye saffron) to muscle preparations to enhance their appearance under the microscope. Reported to the Royal Society of London in his letter of 21 August 1714. It was not published until 1719 (2526).

Carlo Francesco Cogrossi (IT) presented his theory of contagium vivum in which he asserted that contagious diseases such as cattle plague are due to microscopic parasites (530).

Herman Boerhaave (NL), in 1701, was appointed professor of medicine and botany at the University of Leyden where he tried to explain most physiological processes as purely mechanical. His greatest legacy was his method of teaching at the bedside—begun in 1714— which became the foundation of modern clinical medicine. His use of postmortem examinations to find the cause of fatal illnesses and the use of the Fahrenheit thermometer in the clinical assessment of patients were also landmark contributions (1572). He regarded Hippocratism of value only if the results of investigation in anatomy, physiology, physics, and chemistry were properly used (311, 431).

London experiences epidemics of typhus fever and smallpox (red plague).


Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit (PL-NL) introduced the Fahrenheit temperature scale in which the boiling point of water is 212 degrees and its freezing point is 32 degrees (1783).

Ole Christensen Römer (DK) had invented the alcohol thermometer in 1701. Fahrenheit visited him in 1708 then proceeded to modify Römer’s scale and substitute mercury for alcohol.

Raymond de Vieussens (FR) wrote, Traité Nouveau de la Structure et des Causes du Mouvement Natural du Coeur which became a classic in cardiology. In it he gave the first accurate detailed illustration of the coronary vessels, the first illustration of mitral stenosis, and the first recognizable description of the characteristic pulse of aortic insufficiency. He described mitral stenosis with the clear recognition of the cause of the dyspnea, which he ascribed correctly to pulmonary congestion secondary to the effect of the tight mitral stenosis (of which he gives an excellent description) and not to failure of the heart muscle (719).


“ . . . my work, which I've done for a long time, was not pursued in order to gain the praise I now enjoy, but chiefly from a craving after knowledge, which I notice resides in me more than in most other men. And therewithal, whenever I found out anything remarkable, I have thought it my duty to put down my discovery on paper, so that all ingenious people might be informed thereof.” Antonie van Leeuwenhoek. On the occasion of an honorary degree awarded to him, Leeuwenhoek wrote to the faculty at the University of Louvain, on June 12th, 1716 (752)  

Cotton Mather (US) of Boston wrote the Royal Society of London as follows: “ I am willing to confirm you, in a favorable opinion, of Dr. Timonius’s Communication; and therefore, I do assure you that many months before I met with any Intimations of treating ye Small-Pox, with ye methods of Inoculation, anywhere in Europe, I had from a servant of my own, an account of its being practiced in Africa. Enquiring of my Negro-man, Anesimus, who is a pretty intelligent Fellow, Whether he ever had ye Small-Pox; he answered, both, Yes, and No; and then told me that he had undergone an operation, which had given him something of ye Small-Pox, and would forever preserve him from it; adding, That it was often used among ye Guramantese, and whoever had ye courage to use it, was forever free from ye fear of the Contagion. He described ye operation to me, and shew’d me in his Arm ye Scar, which it left upon him; and his Description of it, made it the same that afterwards I found related unto you by Timonius"  (1387).

The first specific measure used in America, as in Europe and before that for centuries in India and probably in China, was inoculation against the smallpox (red plague). The direct application of material from a pustule of an active case of this disease to a normal person was actually a hazardous large-scale experiment in microbiology. It was an active immunization by producing the disease at a chosen time and by a different route of introduction of the virus from that in the natural disease (531).

Cotton Mather (US) reported in a letter to James Petiver on the first unambiguous account of plant hybridization in America: it involved red and blue kernels of Zea mays (1624, 1625). 


Giovanni Maria Lancisi (IT) linked malaria (the ague) with poisonous vapors of swamps and thus originated the name malaria—meaning bad air. He suggested that mosquitoes might in some way transmit this disease (1432, 1433).

Marcus Gerbezius (Slovenian-DE) described the symptoms of bradycardia induced by complete atrioventricular (AV) block. These observations were not published until 1718 (982). Giovanni Battista Morgagni later cites Gerbezius on this subject in the 64th letter of his book in 1761. 


Clifton Wintringham (GB) reports typhus fever in England.


Stephen Hales (GB) concluded that plants are nourished in part by the atmosphere and noted that light also, by entering the leaves may promote vegetation. He also studied the ascent of water in plants and applied physical principles to the study of plant physiology (1087). Read before the Royal Society in 1718.

Mary Wortley Montagu (GB), wife of the British ambassador to Constantinople, wrote Sarah Chiswell encouraging that English citizens adopt the process of ingrafting (variolation) to protect themselves against smallpox. In letter number 31, written in 1717, she says, “The small pox, so fatal and so general amongst us, is here rendered entirely harmless by the invention of ingrafting, which is the term they give it. There is a set of old women who make it their business to perform the operation every autumn… The old woman comes with a nutshell full of the matter of the best sort of smallpox, and asks what veins you please to have opened. She immediately rips open that you offer to her with a large needle…and puts into the vein as much venom as can lie upon the head of her needle, and after binds up the little wound with a hollow bit of shell” (997, 1703, 1704). This process had already been used for countless years in Asia and Africa.

Giovanni Maria Lancisi (IT) produced a monograph on the heart in which he became the first to call special attention to the association of syphilis with cardio-vascular disease. He noted that engorgement and pulsation of the jugular veins (Lancisi’s sign) is evidence of enlargement and failure of the right ventricle (1433, 1434).

James Mackenzie (GB) would rediscover Lancisi’s sign (1557).

Lorenz Heister (DE), in 1718, published the German edition of his book Chirurgie . The English translation became the first systematic treatise on surgery to appear in that language (1153). Heister is credited with coining the terms tracheotomy—previously known as laryngotomy or bronchotomy—and spinal brace.


Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (NL) may have been the first person to see and report on spirochetes when he wrote, “I have seen a sort of animalcule that had the figure of our river eels: these were in very great plenty and so small withal that I deemed 500 or 600 of ‘em laid out end to end would not reach to the length of full-grown eel such as there are in vinegar. These had a very nimble motion, and bent their bodies serpent-wise and shot through the stuff as quick as a pike does through water” (2526).

Caspar Neumann (DE) discovered thymol in Monarda (Horsemint) (1765).

Johann Thomas Hensing (DE) wrote, The Chemical Examination of the Brain and the Unique Phosphorus from it [which] Ignites All Combustibles. This was his dissertation at the University of Giessen. In this work he successfully carried out a chemical search for phosphorus in beef brain thus becoming the first modern neurochemist (1166, 2436).

Europe experiences a pandemic of dysentery; called the "bloody flux."

There is an epidemic of plague in Marseilles.

There is an epidemic of influenza (fierro chuto) in Peru.


Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (NL) and Dr. Sprengeli (NL) wrote, “I could distinctly see that the fleshy fibers, of which the greater part of a muscle consists, were composed of globules.” He presented a drawing, that clearly shows the cross striations which delineate the “globules” (sarcomeres), and calculated that a muscle fiber may contain thousands of filaments (2189, 2527, 2528, 2534). 

Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (NL) wrote, “who can tell, whether each of these filaments may not be enclosed in its proper membrane and contain within it an incredible number of still smaller filaments” (2533).

Very likely these microscopic observations make van Leeuwenhoek the first to observe cross-striations and myofibrils in muscle fibers (1757).

Abraham Vater (AT) described papilla duodeni (Vater’s tubercle or papilla of Santorini), a small elevation at the site of the opening of the conjoined common bile duct and pancreatic duct into the lumen of the duodenum. He also described the ampulla of the bile duct, (Vater's Ampulla). This is dilation within the major duodenal papilla, the duodenal end of the drainage systems of the pancreatic and common bile ducts (2120, 2544).

Plague ravages France, centered on Marseilles it probably killed a third to a half the population there (1396).


John Atkins (GB), in 1721, gave the first definitive accounts of African sleeping sickness (130).

Thomas Masterman Winterbottom (GB) described African sleeping sickness called Soosoos or kee kóllee kondee. “The appetite declines, and the patient gradually wastes away…. The disposition to sleep is so strong, as scarcely to leave a sufficient respite for the taking of food; even the repeated application of a whip…is hardly sufficient to keep the poor wretch awake…. The disease…usually proves fatal with three or four months.” He coined the phrase Negro lethargy (2715).

Griffith Evans (GB) found trypanosomes in the blood of horses and camels with a wasting disease called surra and suggested that the parasites might be the cause of this disease (829). The trypanosome was later called Trypanosoma evansi in his honor.

Antonio Vallisnieri; Antonio Vallisneri (IT) showed the nature of fossil shells and correctly maintained that they were the remains of organisms that had lived in other ages but which had nothing to do with the Universal Flood (2474). The freshwater plant genus Vallisneria commemorates him.

Smallpox (red plague) struck Boston again, with about 6000 people affected in a total population of 11,000, of whom 844 died. This epidemic prompted the first use of inoculation against smallpox in the New World (1396).

Dr. Zabdiel Boylston (US) of Boston was persuaded by Rev. Cotton Mather to use inoculation as a method to immunize against the smallpox (red plague). On June 27, 1721, he inoculated his only son, a boy of thirteen, and two black servants. During the year 1721 and the first part of 1722, according to Hutchinson in his history of Massachusetts, “Dr. Boylston inoculated 247 persons and 39 were inoculated by other persons in Boston and vicinity. Of this number, six died or 2.1%; several of these were supposed to have taken the infection before inoculation. In the same period, 5759 took the disease in the natural way, of whom 844 died or 14.6% and many of those who recovered were left with broken constitutions and disfigured countenances.” Both Cotton Mather and Zabdiel Boylston underwent persecution, bomb-throwing, assault, and attempts of the courts and other physicians to suppress the practice (1288).

The word anesthesia first appeared in English (1368). See, Oliver Wendell Holmes, 1846.


Dr. Benjamin Marten (GB) of London in his work entitled, A New Theory of Consumption: More Especially of a Pthesis or Consumption of the Lungs says, that the cause of consumption “…may possibly be some certain species of animalcula or wonderfully minute living creatures that by their peculiar shape or disagreeable parts are inimical to our nature but however capable of existing in our juices and vessels and which being drove to the lungs by the circulation of the blood or else generated there from their proper ova or eggs with which the juices may abound or which possibly being carried about by the air may be immediately conveyed to the lungs by that we draw in and being there deposited as in a proper nidus or nest and being produced into life coming to perfection or increasing in bigness may by their spontaneous motion and injurious parts stimulating and perhaps wounding or gnawing the tender vessels of the lungs cause all the disorders mentioned, viz., a more than ordinary afflux of humorous upon the part, obstruction, inflammation, exulceration and all the other phenomena and deplorable symptom of this disease.”

Marten also gave consideration to the question of specificity among animalcules. He stated, “Thus one species of animalcula by means of their wonderful smallness and injurious parts may instantly affect the brain and nerves and cause apoplexies and sudden death whilst other species may produce the plague, pestilential or malignant fevers, small pox, etc. Diseases that recur in different seasons or years and maintain their type are best explained on the supposition that there are specific animalcules.” Marten also discussed how certain persons could be affected with animalcules and others not so, and he concluded that if the air or food were full of animalcules all persons would get the diseases. It is reasonable to say that only those who come into chief contact with a sick person are more prone to contract the disease. With regard to consumption he thought it likely that, “by an habitual lying in the same bed with a consumptive patient, constantly eating or drinking with him or by very frequently conversing so nearly as to draw in part of the breath he emits from his lungs a consumption may caught by a sound person.”

To account for the fact that all people do not get consumption by coming near a consumptive, Marten tells us that “slight conversation” with a consumptive is seldom or never sufficient to catch the disease, “…there being but few if any of those minute living creatures or their eggs communicated in slender conversation and which if there are may perhaps not be produced into life or be nourished or increased in the new station they happen to be cast besides we may imagine that some persons are of such a happy constitution that if any of the ova of the minute animals that cause consumption happen to get into their bodies they may likewise be quickly forced out again” (1616).


Giovanni Domenico Santorini (IT), Carlo Orsolini (IT), and Giovanni Battista Recurti (IT) produced an outstanding book on human anatomy detailing muscles of the face, external ear, skull, nose, larynx, eyes, abdomen, male genitalia, and pelvic area (2120).

Frederick Ruysch (NL) employed a microscope to study human blood vessels made visible by injections of cinnabar in a mixture of tallow and wax (2106).

Herman Boerhaave (NL) described a case in which a man died soon after developing chest and abdominal pain after vomiting on a full meal. Boerhaave performed a postmortem and identified an esophageal rupture with spillage of gastric contents into the mediastinum. This is now called Boerhaave's syndrome (308). 


John Freind (GB) wrote the first history of medicine by an Englishman (934).


“I know not what I appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell, whilest the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.” -Isaac Newton (368)

Edmé Gilles Guyot (FR) reported to the Royal Academy that during 1724 he had relieved his own deafness by inserting a curved tube into his eustachian tube by way of the mouth (1079).

Archibald Cleland (GB), in 1741, was successful in catheterizing the eustachian tube, through the nose, to relieve deafness (517).


Catarrhal fever (ague) is epidemic in England.


Jean André Sieur de Peyssonnel (FR), in 1727, classified sponges, corals, and madrepores as animals (678, 703, 705).

Abraham Trembley (FR) discovered the coral polyp in 1739 (2440, 2441).

John Ellis (GB), in 1755, concluded that sponges are animals because he observed water currents associated with movements of their oscula. Ellis also demonstrated that corallines and gorgonins are animals (809).

Félix Joseph Henri de Lacaze-Duthiers (FR), in 1864, quotes Peyssonel, "I made the coral bloom in solid seawater vases, and I noticed that what we believe to be the flower of this plant is purported to was true, that a similar bug has a small nettle or octopus. I had the pleasure of seeing move the legs, or feet, of this nettle, and having put the vase full of water or coral near a gentle heat of a fire, all small insects expanded. The nettle output extends feet, and forms what M. de Marsigli and I had taken for the petals of the flower. The calyx of the flower is the same purported animal body forward and out from the cell" (678).

Anita McConnell (GB), in 1990, quotes from Peyssonnel’s unpublished letter to René-Antoine Ferchault de Réamur, director of the French Académie des Sciences, " J'observais ce queue nous crayons ere la fleur de cite prêt endue planet nest au vary Qur’an insect semblable a une petite ortie... J'avais le plaisir de voir remuer les pattes de cette ortie, et ayant mis le vase plein d'eau ou le corail était a une douce chaleur aupres du feu, tous les petits insectes s'épanourient. " ["I noticed that what we believe to be the flower of this so-called plant is in reality an insect like a small nettle. I was pleased to see the feet of this nettle move and, having warmed the water where the coral was, all the insects opened up"] (1638).

Stephen Hales (GB), a great experimental physiologist, performed such pioneering studies in plant physiology as measuring the effect of the sun’s heat on the rising of sap, determining the rate of flow of sap and the pressure of sap. He found that leaves perspired or, as we say now, transpired and that transpiration on the surface of the leaf promoted a continuous flow of sap, that the upward flow of sap was due to transpiration, capillarity and root pressure, and that sap did not flow in a circulator fashion like blood. In this book he says, “Plants very probably draw through their leaves some part of their nourishment from the air, may not light also by freely entering surfaces of leaves and flowers contribute much to ennobling the principles of vegetables” (1086, 1090). Some consider this the discovery of photosynthesis.

The famous seed-breeding establishment Vilmorin-Andrieux et Cie (FR) was founded. It was through the work of this concern that the sugar beet was developed during the Napoleonic era.

Stephen Hales (GB) deduced the specific location of the bone’s growth plate. He noted that the distance between drill holes he made in the diaphyses of leg bones of chickens did not increase as the birds grew. From this he correctly concluded that longitudinal growth occurred at the ends of these long bones and not in the middle (1086).


Charleston, South Carolina was hit by yellow fever twice in a four-year period. The vector (mosquitoes) was not understood, and treatment wasn't very effective (1396).


Antoine-Laurent de Jussieu (FR) discovered the fungal nature of the non-green component of lichens (675).

Henri-Louis Duhamel de Monceau (FR) identified a fungal disease on the bulbs of saffron crocus (now named Helicobasidium purpureum) and illustrated its sclerotia on the bulbs. Duhamel discovered that this fungus spreads underground from one bulb to another (697).

Pierre Fauchard (FR) wrote Le Chirugien Dentiste, ou Traité des Dents [The Dental Surgeon, or Treatise on the Teeth]. Aside from the physics and mechanics of tooth extraction, Fauchard dealt with filing, scaling, drilling and filling, ligations, crowns, and bridges. An interesting oral mechanical application—a rare departure from teeth, gums, and jaw—was his development of a metal obturator to counter the ravages of syphilis upon the palate. He gave the first description of the toothbrush in Europe and employed orthodontal procedure to treat malocclusion (844). In the second edition (1746) he gives the first account of pyorrhea alveolaris (Riggs disease). This book was the most influential in the field until the turn of the century.

John M. Riggs (US) introduced treating pyorrhea alveolaris by scraping the teeth to the roots (2035).

Michael Alberti (DE) described an epidemic of whooping cough (44).


Europe experiences an influenza pandemic (593).


Pier' Antonio Micheli (IT) was the first to develop a technique for routinely producing axenic cultures of certain molds. He grew them on freshly cut pieces of melon, quince, and pear. In this manner he followed the growth of Mucor, Botrytis, and Aspergillus (all of which he named) and noted that each fungus formed its own seeds and reproduced only its own kind.

Micheli, in his book New Genera of Plants, Arranged After the Method of Tournefort…with Additional Notes and Observations Regarding the Planting, Origin, and Growth of Fungi, Mucors, and Allied Plants, says “On the 30th day of December, I took a piece of melon and shaped it into a triangular pyramid. Then, choosing a piece of a quince and also of an almost ripe pear, commonly called Spina, I formed them into truncated pyramids, with their apices removed, giving the piece of quince a pentagonal, and the piece of pear a hexagonal base. On the individual faces of the pyramids, I sowed the seeds of Mucor, Aspergillus, and Botrytis, keeping each kind separate, so that on the piece of melon I had placed three kinds, on the quince on five sides five kinds, and lastly on the pear on six sides, six kinds…. All these species of seeds began to germinate from the fourth to the fifth or sixth day of the month, as I observed. They developed into plants according to their seed, of which some attained their maturity on the tenth day, others on the twelfth, others on the thirteenth, and finally others on the fifteenth: and they produced the seeds of their kind. I kept these seeds separate, and again and again planted the seeds produced in like fashion from them; and then I always observed the same mode of growth in them, not in one trial only, but however often and whenever I attempted it, without any difference whatsoever other than in the rate of growth or in the earlier or later ripening” (1676). He is commemorated by the genus Michelia.

Jean Jacques d’Ortous de Mairan (FR) conducted an experiment showing that, even in total darkness, the leaves of a “sensitive heliotropic plant”—probably Mimosa pudica — continue to fold and unfold in a 24-hour cycle that was previously thought to be in response to daylight (691). This is possibly the first experiment to illustrate a circadian rhythm.

Wilhelm Friedrich Philipp Pfeffer (DE) confirmed that circadian movements of plants are independent of the daily light-dark cycle (1887).


William Cheselden (GB) was a very influential surgeon known for his lithotomies, artificial pupil operations, and his anatomy book, The Anatomy of the Human Body, which went through at least 13 editions (490).


Jacopo Bartolomeo Beccari (IT) formally discovered Foraminifera in sands near Bologna and in the beach sand of the Adriatic Sea at Rimini (210). See, Hooke, 1665.

Robert Nesbitt (GB) demonstrated that in the human fetus some bones are formed not in cartilage but directly in fibrous tissue (1764).

Karl Ernst von Baer (EE-DE-RU) noted, “The process of ossification supplants the cartilaginous skeleton. So long as the ossifications lie in the skin, as in the sturgeon, they form corneous bones, but when they lie under the skin, they form true bones, e.g., the bones of the skull in the pike” (2569).

Antoine Dugès (FR) distinguished between bones formed by direct ossification of the cartilaginous groundwork of the skull, and those developed in the periosteal fibrous tissue (788).

Karl Bogislaus Reichert (DE) found that several skull bones in Amphibia are formed without the intermediary of cartilage, nasals, maxillaries, and lacrymals. In teleosts frontals and parietals developed independently of the cartilaginous skull, thus belonging to the skeletal system of the skin. He discovered that in the newt several bones connected with the palate are formed in the mucous membrane of the mouth by the fusion of a number of little conical teeth (2002).

Heinrich Müller (DE) showed that there is no histological difference between membrane bone and cartilage bone (1731).

Stephen Hales (GB) tied a brass tube into the crural artery of a horse, attached a glass tube nine feet in length to the brass tube, and, on “untying the ligature on the artery, the blood rose in the tube to a height of eight feet, three inches perpendicular above the level of the left ventricle of the heart”—the first recorded quantitative determination of blood pressure (called Hale’s piezometer). Using wax he formed images of the heart chambers, calculated their volume, and determined that small animals expel a weight of blood equal to their own weight in less time than a large animal. He made microscopic examinations of capillaries in the living state and performed experiments in which he perfused various chemicals into the blood stream and concluded that changes occur in the diameter of the capillaries as a result. Hales postulated that the blood globules [erythrocytes] described by Leeuwenhoek were only slightly smaller than the diameter of the smallest vessels. Thus, the flow of these blood particles through the capillaries was accompanied with considerable friction and resistance, which actually slowed the circulation. He popularized the use of ventilators in jails, mines, and ships’ holds, etc. for health reasons (1087-1089).

Mark Catesby (GB), the first real naturalist in America, published a two-volume book on natural history in the Carolina area, which provided a wealth of knowledge for future scientists (465).


Europe experienced an influenza pandemic (593).


Herman Boerhaave (NL) developed the idea that true fermentation occurred only in vegetable matter, and that although putrefaction is a true internal motion it never produces acids and flammable spirits and in this respect differs from fermentation. He describes the ferment as a body “which when intimately mixed with a fermenting vegetable excites, increases and promotes the fermentation.”

He reports that if bone is treated with muriatic acid, the inorganic salts are dissolved leaving the organic matrix in the original shape of the bone. Boerhaave was the first to separate out urea from urine, without using chemicals such as alcohol or nitric acid (309, 310).

Hilaire Marie Rouelle (FR), the cadet, in 1773, isolated urea from human, cow, and horse urine. This was the first animal metabolite to be isolated in crystalline form. Rouelle called it matière savonneuse (soapy matter) (2070).

William Cruickshank (GB), in 1797, added concentrated nitric acid to evaporated urine and obtained crystalline urea nitrate (an explosive) (587, 1762).

Antoine Francois Fourcroy (FR) and Louis Nicolas Vauquelin (FR) isolated then crystallized urea, which they named urée, and ascertained its weight and constituent atomic components. They favored the idea that urea was a waste product of nitrogenous metabolism present in all living tissues with the kidney serving as an organ to “de-nitrogenize” the body by excreting urea in the urine. They hypothesized that urea was the source of urinary ammonia (915-919).

Jean-Louis Prévost (CH) and Jean Baptiste André Dumas (FR) binephrectomized animals and found their blood urea was high and chemically identical to that of urine. They concluded that urea is produced in the body (not the kidney) and excreted by the kidney (1943, 1944).


“All forms that perish other forms supply,

(By turns we catch the vital breath and die)

Like bubbles on the sea of matter borne,

They rise, they break, and to that sea return”

Alexander Pope, An Essay on Man (367)

Chester More Hall (GB) successfully fashioned an achromatic objective lens for a telescope by combining two lenses made of glass with different indices of refraction; the different refractions of the two glasses canceled the aberration. This practical discovery made possible light microscopy as we know it today. Hall did not patent the invention but rather kept it a secret. John Dolland (GB) reported the process in 1758, then patented it around 1759 (757, 998).

William Cheselden (GB) created his book Osteographia, which was of much use in directing attention to the study of the skeleton and the morbid changes to which it is liable (491).


“So, naturalists observe, a flea
Hath smaller fleas that on him prey;
And these have smaller still to bite ‘em;
And so proceed ad infinitum.” Jonathan Swift (2370)

René Antoine Ferchault de Réaumur (FR) wrote, Mémoires Pour Servir à l’Histoire Naturelle des Insectes, one of the monumental works in the field of insect biology (705).

Jacob Theodor Klein (PL) is likely to have coined the name echinodermata (1388).

William Stukeley (GB) noted that in gout a certain “Dr. Mead observ'd it upon a microscopic glass; a parcel of small salts nimbly floating in a liquor and striking out into crystals of incredible tenuity and sharpness, he calls them spicula and darts” (2353). See, Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, 1679.

The Daughters of Charity Medical Center in New Orleans was founded, making it the oldest hospital in the United States (2311).


Epidemics of diphtheria and scarlet fever spread through various parts of New England. Both diseases were referred to as throat distemper and weren't distinguished. Hundreds of people died, most of them children (1396).


Paul Gottlieb Werlhof (DE) described a disease he called morbus haemorrhagicus maculosus (also called purpura haemorrhagica, or idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura or essential thrombocytopenia) (2675).

Robert Willan (GB) distinguished four types of purpura; one of these was designated purpura hemorrhagia (2697).

Eduard Krauss (DE) discovered that platelet numbers are decreased in a patient with purpura hemorrhagica and return to normal with cessation of bleeding (1407).

Georges Hayem (FR) firmly established the relationship between platelets and purpura hemorrhagica. He noted that the patient's platelets are large and their clots are soft and poorly retracted (1134).

Cecil James Watson (US), circa 1925, confirmed a previously published observation that thrombocytopenic purpura can be reproduced with antiplatelet serum (2167). This finding was significant for an understanding of autoimmune diseases.

William J. Harrington (US), Virginia Minnich (US), James W. Hollingsworth (US), and Carl V. Moore (US) demonstrated that idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura is initiated by a plasma factor (1107).

John Belchier (GB) noted that the bones of madder-fed animals stain red in their growth areas (219, 220). Madder is a crude dye from the plant Rubia tinctorum that contains the dye alizarin.

Henri-Louis du Hamel du Monceau (FR) studied the uptake of dye (madder) by bone and found it was only deposited where osteoblast activity was present. Duhamel, a bachelor, was a natural research worker delighting in his self-described role as 'Nature's detective'. He found that only certain parts of the bone became stained. The younger the animal the more bone would be stained because the madder was only deposited in newly formed active bone. By alternating a madder treated diet with a normal diet, he could produce successive layers of dyed bone, proving that bone grew by interstitial formation. By drilling holes in bone a measured distance apart, he proved that growth took place from the ends of long bone. He found that typically the periosteum produces cartilage, which is subsequently transformed into bone (775, 776).

John Hunter (GB), in the eighteenth century, showed that bone substance is not the static resistant structure it appears to be, but that it exists in a state of constant deposition and resorption and that this activity is the important element in bone repair (1231, 1273).

Marie-Jean-Pierre Flourens (FR) confirmed Duhamel’s work, finding that the sides of long bone grow by the superposition of external layers; the medullary canal grows by the reabsorption of the internal layers. He proved that the external periosteum membrane forms cartilage, which becomes bone (881, 883, 884).

Carl Gräbe (DE) and Carl Theodore Liebermann (DE) demonstrated that alizarin is a dihydroxyanthraquinone (1035, 1036).

 Marie-Jean-Pierre Flourens (FR) confirmed Hunter’s work (884).

Harry Gideon Wells (US) wrote that the calcium salts exert a specific influence on the connective-tissue cells which cause them to assume active growth and to undergo a metaplasia not only into osteoblasts and bone corpuscles but apparently even into marrow cells with hematogenic function (2667).

Gaspar Roque Francisco Narciso Casal y Julian (ES), in 1735, described the disease state of mal de la rosa, later called pellagra (457). His book containing this observation was published posthumously.

Francois Thiéry (FR) described pellagra (2415).


Jean Astruc (FR) wrote the first great treatise on syphilis and venereal diseases. This work includes the first description of herpes genitalis (126, 1291). Note: The book was first written in Latin and published in 1736.


Carl Linné; Carl von Linné; Carolus Linnaeus (SE) was a naturalist who held the chairs of medicine and botany at the university at Uppsala. He published Genera Plantarum, considered the starting point of modern botany, and Species Plantarum, which contains the first consistent use of the binomial system of nomenclature in the classification of life forms. It is the basis of the system used today. In his Species Plantarun (1753 edition) he also included some fungi making this publication the starting point for modern systematics and nomenclature for both plants and fungi. In the 1753 edition he became the first to use the traditional symbols circle with arrow and circle with cross to represent male and female sexes, respectively. It is believed that these symbols were derived from the Greek letters theta and phi, which begin the Greek names of the gods Thouros (Mars) and Phosphorus (Venus) (1512, 1514, 2601, 2602).


Peter Artedi; Petrus Arctaedius (SE) was one of the great ichthyologists of all time. Artedi's work is the basis on which Linnaeus built his section of the Systema Naturae dealing with fishes. Nearly every species in the work of Linnaeus refers to the Ichthyologia of Artedi, which is outstanding in its precise detail, and very useful in determining the real identity of Linnaean species. Artedi contributed to Linnaeus's refinement of the principles of taxonomy. Furthermore, he recognized five additional orders of fish: Malacopterygii, Acanthopterygii, Branchiostegi, Chondropterygii, and Plagiuri. Artedi developed standard methods for making counts and measurements of anatomical features that are modernly exploited (122).

Charleston, South Carolina was hit by a heavy smallpox (red plague) epidemic.


England and Scotland experience a smallpox (red plague) epidemic.


The 1706 Yale College graduating class of three contained a minister/physician who possessed exceptional powers of observation. In 1740, Jonathan Dickinson, later appointed the first President of the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University), wrote a medical work of the first order entitled, Observations on that terrible Disease vulgarly called the Throat Distemper with advices as to the Method of Cure. “This distemper,” Dickinson related, “began in these Parts, in February, 1735. The long Continuance and universal Spread of it among us, has given me abundant Opportunity to be acquainted with it in all its Forms.”

“The first Assault was in a Family about ten Miles from me, which proved fatal to eight of the Children in about a Fortnight. Being called to visit the distressed Family, I found upon my arrival, one of the Children newly dead, which gave me the Advantage of a Dissection, and thereby a better Acquaintance with the Nature of the Disease, than I could otherwise have had.”

“It frequently begins,” he wrote of the throat distemper, “with a slight Indisposition, much resembling an ordinary Cold, with a listless Habit, a slow and scarce discernable Fever, some soreness of the Throat and Tumefaction of the Tonsils: and perhaps a running of the Nose, the Countenance pale, and the eyes dull and heavy. The patient is not confined, nor any Danger apprehended for some Days, till the Fever gradually increases, the whole Throat, and sometimes the Roof of the Mouth and Nostrils are covered with a cankerous Crust … When the lungs are thus affected, the Patient is first afflicted with a dry hollow Cough, which is quickly succeeded with an extraordinary Hoarseness and total Loss of the Voice, with the most distressing asthmatic Symptoms and difficulty of Breathing, under which the poor miserable creature struggles, until released by the perfect Suffocation, or Stoppage of the Breath. This last has been the fatal Symptom, under which the most have sunk, that have died in these parts. And indeed there have been few recovered whose Lungs have been thus affected. All that I have seen get over this dreadful Symptom … have by their perpetual Cough expectorated incredible Quantities of a tough whitish slough from their Lungs, for a considerable Time together. And on the other Hand, I have seen large Pieces of the Crust, several inches Long and near an Inch broad, torn from the Lungs by the vehemence of the Cough…” (742).

Emanuel Swedenborg (SE) deduced that different brain functions had to be represented in different anatomical loci at the level of the cortex (2369).

Jean-Baptiste Bouillaud (FR) presented cases of loss of speech (aphasia) associated with lesions to the frontal area of the brain. This led to his localization of the speech center in the anterior lobes of the brain (329, 331). Bouillaud presented the classic account of aphasia and was the first to suggest that injuries of the frontal lobe are a cause of aphasia (330).

Marc Dax (FR), in 1836, read his unpublished paper at Montpellier University detailing a series of clinical cases of aphasia demonstrating that disorders of speech were constantly associated with lesions of the left hemisphere (633, 634). This gave rise to the idea of domain-specificity, which has been central to psychology, neuroscience, and neurology. Note: Gustave, author of the 1865 reference, is the son of Marc Dax.

Bartholomeo Panizza (IT) traced the optic pathways in birds and fishes to their terminations in the occipital lobes. He determined the crossing of optic fibers at the chiasma and showed that a lesion on one side of the brain affects the eye on the opposite side. Panizza became convinced that the visual projection involved the thalamus and the posterior cortex (1042, 1833, 2288).

Pierre Paul Broca (FR) was one of the first to demonstrate a connection between specific ability and a specific cerebral point or area. He showed that damage to the third convolution of the left frontal lobe is associated with the loss of the ability to speak. Broca knew more about the skull than anyone in his time. His opinion was important in convincing the scientific community that the Neanderthal (Neandertal) skull was very old and had belonged to a normal man. He wrote a classic 900 page monograph on aneurysms, experimented with hypnotism on a series of surgical cases, and helped introduce the microscope in the diagnosis of cancer. He is best known for the concept of functional localization by cerebral convolution. He concluded that the integrity of the left frontal convolution is responsible and necessary for articular speech (246, 374-379, 381, 382).

David Ferrier (GB) is responsible for naming this region Broca’s convolution- the motor speech area (860).

Gustav Theodor Fritsch (DE) and Eduard Hitzig (DE) electrically stimulated restricted regions of the frontal lobe of a dog and elicited movement of the face or limb on the opposite side of the body. This is the discovery of a specific motor area of the cerebral cortex (940). 

Sanger Brown (US) and Edward Albert Schäfer (GB) provided conclusive proof that the occipital lobe is the center for vision in animals (399).

Hermann Munk (DE) reported on the visual abnormalities after occipital lobe ablation in dogs and monkeys (1739-1743). This was compelling evidence for the visual center being located in the occipital lobe of the brain.

Edward Albert Schäfer (GB) performed extirpation and electrical excitation experiments on the cortex of monkeys, which strongly supported the idea that the occipital lobes of the brain play a vital role in vision (2140-2144).  

Salomon Eberhard Henschen (SE) localized vision to the calcarine fissure of the occipital lobe of the brain. He recognized that the left hemisphere receives its input from the right visual field and the upper bank of the calcarine fissure from the upper retina, hence the lower visual field (1164, 1165).

Tatsuji Inouye (JP) gave the earliest clear understanding of the representation of the peripheral-central visual field representation. Using his analysis of war casualties he produced a map of the representation of the visual fields on the cortex. The central fields were placed in the caudal part of the striate cortex, with the peripheral visual fields represented anteriorly (1310).

Gordon Holmes (IE) and William Tindall Lister (GB) produced a more accurate and detailed map of the visual fields on the striate cortex (1222, 1223).

Samuel Armstrong Talbot (US) discovered a second visual area in the cat, which is mapped on the cortex like a mirror image of the primary representation (2387).

Margaret Clare (US) and George Bishop (US) described another visual area that is located on the lateral suprasylvian gyrus of cats (510).

John M. Allman (US) and Jon H. Kaas (US), studying the owl monkey Aotus, and Semir Zeki (US), studying Old World macaques, identified more extrastriate visual areas, each of which appeared to be specialized for analyzing color, motion, or form (67, 2755).

Leslie G. Ungerleider (US) and Mortimer Mishkin (US) determined that the visual areas of the parietal lobe are principally concerned with spatial localization in the visual field (2461).

Mitchell Glickstein (GB) and Jack G. May (GB) determined that the visual areas of the parietal lobe are also used during visual guidance of movement (1004).

Kao-Liang Chow (US) showed that lesions of the inferotemporal cortex cause a specific impairment in the acquisition and retention of visual discrimination learning (500).

Mortimer Mishkin (US) demonstrated that the essential input to the inferotemporal cortex is by a series of corticocortical connections originating in the striate cortex (1686). 

Charles-Marie de La Condamine (FR) accomplished the first scientific exploration of the Amazon River by a European. During the four-month trip he made ethnographic observations of the regions through which he passed (1425). He introduced the use of the Amazonian drug curare in Europe.

Friedrich Wilhelm Heinrich Alexander von Humboldt (DE), in ca. 1802, was also one of the first Europeans to witness the production of the arrow poison (curare). Natives of British Guayana using the plant Bejuco de Mavacure made it. Von Humboldt transferred curare to Europe in 1803 (2598).


Abraham Vater (AT) discovered what was later called Vater-Pacini bodies (Pacinian corpuscles) in the skin of the fingers in 1717. He called them the papillae nervae and they were drawn by his student, Cardinal Karl Lehmann, in 1741 (2545).

Filippo Pacini (IT) rediscovered and described a large – between 2 and 3 mm – ovoid, sensory end organ consisting of concentric layers or lamellae of connective tissue surrounding a nerve ending. The most complicated of the nerve endings, they are present in tendons, intermuscular septa, connective tissue membranes, and sometimes internal organs. Pacini was the first to describe the distribution of the corpuscles in the body, their microscopic structure, and their nerve connections; he also interpreted the function of the corpuscles as being concerned with the sensation of touch and deep pressure. The work was done in 1831 (1822).

Friedrich Gustav Jacob Henle (DE) and Rudolf Albert von Kölliker (CH) named them Pacinian corpuscles (1158).

Abraham Trembley (CH) showed that the freshwater polyp (hydra) was not a plant (as Leeuwenhoek had believed) since the tentacles could grab objects and bring them to a primitive stomach. He also observed hydra to move by a primitive foot if disturbed. After observing hydra to reproduce by budding, he cut a hydra in half and got two new hydras. He next cut other hydra in multiple pieces and got many new hydras. He even turned one inside out, where it quickly readjusted to its new worldview and continued functioning normally. He stained them by feeding them on various pigmented organisms and was able to see extensions of the enteron. The hydra, Trembley believed, was the missing link between animal and vegetable (1489, 2441).

Antoine Ferrein (FR) started modern voice research with an experiment, which showed that vocal folds are needed for voice production and that the glottis is the focus of the research on the singing voice. Ferrein made a remarkable finding: loudness of voice increased as the size of the glottal chink was decreased and/or when subglottic pressure was increased (700, 1545).


Anders Celsius (SE) presented the idea of the centigrade thermometer; now called Celsius in his honor (474, 1783).

John Turbevil Needham (GB) found nematode infestation in corn (1759).

Joseph Lieutaud (FR) described the anatomy of the urinary bladder, its trigonum vesicae now referred to as Lieutaud’s trigone. He described the structure of each ductless gland in detail, especially the pituitary. Lieutaud recognized the pituitary-portal system of veins running between the hypothalamus and the hypophysis (pituitary gland). He described the peripheral and central nervous systems drawing attention to the third ventricle in which a deep midline fossa passes anteriorly toward the base of the pituitary stalk. He emphasized that the stalk of the pituitary is solid and composed of grey matter covered by pia mater with small vessels on the surface connecting with the pituitary below. Lieutaud coined the term tige pituitaire, i.e., pituitary stalk (1503, 2770).

William Hunter (GB) gives a detailed description of cartilage and the arrangement of synovial membranes. He notes the devastating effect of purulent material on cartilage, and also that repair of cartilage is a very troublesome disease; that it admits to a cure with more difficulty than a carious bone; and that, when destroyed, it is never recovered. Much in this paper is likely based on the work of his associate James Douglas (GB) (1275). Hunter concluded that tendons are devoid of a nerve supply, which they are near their insertion, but not at their origin.

James Douglas (GB) first described the synovium and deduced its secretions were responsible for lubrication of the joints (2257).

Fielding Ould (IE), a Dublin man-midwife, was explicitly opposed to manual detachment of the placenta. Sadly, his proposal went largely unheeded (1814).

Europe experiences a pandemic of influenza.


Counsellor Barth (DE) made the dye Saxon blue or indigo sulfonate or indigocarmine by sulfonation of natural indigo with strong sulfuric acid (902). This dye is used medicinally in a test of kidney function, as a cloth stain, and as a biological stain.

Thomas Schwencke (NL) was the first to use the word hematology (294). This has also been claimed for others.

Jean-Louis Petit (FR) performed the first successful cholecystotomy (removal of gallstones) after he had mistakenly opened the gall bladder when attempting to drain what he thought was an abdominal wall abscess (1880).

Nicolas Andry De Bois-Regard (FR) coined the word orthopaedia (orthopedic) in its medical context, deriving it from the Greek words straight and child (88).

Yellow fever struck New York again. A correlation with the dockyard areas was noticed, but mosquitoes were still not recognized as the vector (1396).

Plague hit the island of Sicily, killing 40,000 inhabitants in the city of Messina (1428).


Herman C. Hornbostel (DE) reported that beeswax is not collected but produced by the bees themselves (1246).

Francois Huber (CH) determined that bees fed on a diet of sugar could make beeswax (1254). This was a very controversial finding.

Louis Dreyling (DE) described the process by which bees make beeswax (765, 766).

Christian Gottlieb Kratzenstein (DE-DK) using frictional electricity, induced movement in paralyzed fingers, and even induced ‘electro-sleep’ in humans (1406). 

Jean Jallabert (CH), observed – by chance – that by applying electroshocks with a Leyden jar, he could stimulate muscle regeneration and blood increase in a locksmith’s paralyzed hand; electroconvulsive therapy history began its germination (1322). 

Jean-Baptiste Le Roy (FR), in 1755, was he first to use electroconvulsive therapy for mental illness. ref

Georg Ernst Stahl (DE) was the first to report the cardioactive properties of chinchona, when he observed that patients with an excessive intake of the bark developed edema due to reduced cardiac performance (2309).

Jean-Baptiste de Sénac (FR) successfully treated heart palpitations with chinchona bark (710).


Diphtheria spreads from Spain through Europe to England and America.


Jacopo Bartolomeo Beccari (IT) used the term gluten (L. gluten, glue) to name the gelatinous material remaining when bread dough was washed free of starch. He noted that this material was similar in quality to some animal materials and quickly underwent putrefaction (209, 211). 

Charles Bonnet (CH) while observing aphids became the first to prove that some eggs can develop parthenogenically (n. parthenogenesis). He demonstrated the regenerative ability of annelid worms, studied the respiration of insects, tissue regeneration in Hydra, photosynthesis, and epinasty (a downward bending of leaves or other plant parts, resulting from excessive growth of the upper side) in plants. It was he who coined the term evolution (316, 318, 320).

Karl Theodor Ernst von Siebold (DE) rediscovered parthogenesis in insects (2610).

Karl Theodor Ernst von Siebold (DE) discovered parthenogenesis in moths and the honeybee, Apis mellifera Linn (2610, 2611). He is commemorated by Ergasilus sieboldi von Nordmann, 1832; Lineola sieboldii Kölliker, 1845; and Pegantha sieboldi Haeckel, 1879.

Karl Theodor Ernst von Siebold (DE) established the fact of parthenogenesis in two wasps, in a sawfly, in several moths, and in certain phyllopod crustacea (2612).

Wilhelm Kurz (DE) was among the first to point out that environmental conditions may trigger parthenogenesis. He found that increased salt concentrations in evaporating watery media brought it about in Daphnia. Kurz was apparently the first to document the existence of sex intermediates in the Cladocera (1421).

Anton Kerner Marilaun (AT) discovered parthenogenesis in the angiosperm plant Antennaria alpina (1606).

Hans Oscar Juel (SE) and Svante Murbeck (SE) confirmed this in Antennaria and Alchemilla (1341, 1342, 1744, 1745).

Charles Sedgwick Minot (US) and Theodor Boveri (DE) realized that parthenogenesis is due to some failure or modification of cell division during the maturation of the egg (337, 1684).

Richard Karl Wilhelm Theodor von Hertwig (DE) was the first to describe the artificially stimulated development of sea urchin eggs (parthenogenesis). He stimulated the eggs with chloroform or strychnine (2595).

Jacques Loeb (DE-US) induced artificial parthenogenesis in annelida, frog, and sea urchin eggs by mechanically stimulating them (1519-1523).

Leonard Doncaster (GB) found that in the parthenogenetic ova of certain insects, e.g. Rhodites rosae (Henking) and Nematus lacteus, reductive division does not occur, although two polar bodies are formed (761).

Alexander Ivanovitch Petrunkevitch (RU-US) gave the first statistically adequate cytological demonstration of the truth of Dzierzon’s hypothesis that worker and queen bees are developed from fertilized eggs, while drones are developed from unfertilized eggs by parthenogenesis. He found mosaic polyploidy in the honeybee. There are only sixteen chromosomes in the first division of the nucleus of the drone-egg, but 64 in cells of the blastoderm of the later embryo (1882).

Friedrich Meves (DE) showed that while the diploid number (counted in the oogonia of the honeybee queen) is 32 and the haploid 16, more than 60 chromosomes are present in the follicle-cells of the testis (1670).

Franz Schrader (DE-US) and Sally Hughes-Schrader (US) observed coccids (scale insects and mealybugs) in which one set of chromosomes of the diploid male undergoes heteropycnosis, leading they surmised, to inactivity and ultimately to effective haploidy of the nominally diploid male. They pointed out that all of one haploid set in these cases might be viewed as a compound X chromosome (an X chromosome consisting of more than one element), and all of the other set as a compound Y. On this basis a hypothesis for the evolutionary origins of haplo-diploid parthenogenesis was formulated (2184).

Gregory Goodwin Pincus (US) exposed a rabbit egg to high temperature, hormone treatments, and salt solution in vitro. The result was the first live mammalian birth via parthenogenesis (1900, 1901).

The first recorded epidemic of infectious hepatitis occurred in Minorca, Spain (2768).

Edward Alfred Cockayne (GB), in 1912, described "epidemic catarrhal jaundice" and concluded that an infectious agent causes it and related diseases. He suggested, "infective hepatitis" would be a more appropriate name for the disease (528).

Thomas Cadwalader (US) described a case of what would later be called osteomalacia (436). This vitamin D deficiency is called osteomalacia in adults and rickets in children.

Louis Arthur Milkman (US) would later refine the description of osteomalacia (1679).

Giovanni Maria Lancisi (IT) presented over 60 studies of cardiac dilatation, with complete clinical histories, analyses of the relation of symptoms to the findings upon examination, and detailed descriptions of the autopsies (1435). 

Jacques Henri Daviel (FR) introduced modern cataract surgery, in which the cataract is actually extracted from the eye by removal of the lens through the cornea. The operation went well but the eye was lost to infection (625). He also removed a lachrymal fistula through the nasal passage.


August Johann Rösel von Rosenhof (DE) clearly shows parasitoids in his four volumes on paintings of insects and their larval stages (2606). He produced many beautiful paintings of insects, amphibians, reptiles, and invertebrates, which are collected into books. Roesel's bush-cricket Metrioptera roeseli was so named in his honor.

Richard Brocklesby (GB) was able to show, in experiments on cats, that curare allows the heart to beat up to two hours following the apparent death of the animal (384).

Gasparo Ferdinando Felice Fontana (IT), speaking of his experiments with curare noted, “The action of the substance is such that it destroyed the irritability of the voluntary muscles but not that of the heart” (898).

Benjamin Collins Brodie (GB) rediscovered Brocklesby’s findings, yet went a step further when he used artificial ventilation of the lungs he kept a curare treated cat alive (386, 387).

Benjamin Collins Brodie (GB) and Sewell (GB), at the Royal Veterinary College in 1814, injected a donkey with curare, which had been brought to England by Charles Waterton (GB). Within 10 minutes the donkey appeared dead. They cut a small hole in the animal’s throat and inserted a bellows and pumped to inflate the lungs for two hours until the effects of curare had worn off. The donkey survived, thus demonstrating that the heart continues to beat in an animal paralyzed by curare. The Amazonian native name for curare is uirary which in their languages meant uira, a bird, and ary, to kill. The vine, Strychnos toxifera, is the source of curare (801). Note: There is dispute as to who actually performed this experiment.

John Andree (GB) wrote the first monograph on epilepsy (86).


Andreas Sigismund Marggraf (DE) announced to the Royal Academy of Sciences in Berlin his discovery of sugar in beets and a method using alcohol to extract it (1602).

Pierre Louis Moreau de Maupertuis (FR) proposed the theory that molecules from all parts of the body are gathered into the gonads and speculated on the causes of evolution. He challenged the preformation theory of genetics advocated by Jan Swammerdam, arguing that it could not account for the existence of hybrids or congenital monsters. He argued instead that the embryo goes through a number of distinct developmental stages, rather than simply increasing in size over time, i.e., epigenesis (694).

Charles Robert Darwin (GB) would later refer to the gathering of gemmules from throughout the body into the germ cells. He called this the theory of pangenesis (621).

Vincenzo Menghini (IT) reported that erythrocytes contain iron whereas plasma does not (1662).

Albrecht von Haller (CH) advocated the myogenic theory of the heart beat, emphasized that the bile played a role in the digestion of fat, that pressure on the brain may cause coma, and demonstrated that irritability is a specific property of all muscular tissues and that sensitivity is the exclusive property of nervous tissue. This became known as the doctrine of irritability for which he was later called the father of modern nerve physiology. Von Haller also confirmed that the pleural space is airless, and when opened, caused the collapse of the lungs and their withdrawal from the chest cage (2586, 2588, 2589). See, Glisson, 1672 on irritability.

Theodor Wilhelm Engelmann (DE) demonstrated that the heartbeat of the frog is initiated within the heart, i.e., myogenic. He also established that the heart muscle acts as a syncytium and that injured myocardium heals over (815). 


Benoît de Maillet (FR) argued that the earth was originally covered in water. Powerful currents in the water formed mountains and as the waters receded mountains eroded and laid down debris on the seabed to form sedimentary rocks. He concluded that vast tracts of time elapsed before human civilization appeared and that life must have begun in the oceans. Man existed prior to Adam (690). First published in 1748 but likely written circa 1700.

Jean Antoine Nollet (FR) discovered and explained osmotic pressure (1779).

John Turbervill Needham (GB) and other vitalists complained that experiments on spontaneous generation using heated infusions, flasks, and air destroyed the vital force which is necessary to initiate life spontaneously (1760).

John Hill (GB) in volume 3 of his A General Natural History coined the name paramecium (1196).

Johann Friedrich Meckel (called the Elder) (DE) presented his dissertation containing the discovery of the sphenomaxillary ganglion (Meckel's ganglion) and of the recess in the dura that lodges Gasser's ganglion (Meckel's cave) (1650).

Jacques Daviel (FR), in 1748, presented as a treatment for cataracts the technique of removing the inner contents of the lens and leaving the posterior lens capsule and the attached zonules that held it in place (624).


In Sweden, between 1749-1764, more than a quarter of a million children died, 43,000 from whooping cough and 144,194 from smallpox (2274).


Georges-Louis Leclerc Comte de Buffon (FR) suggested that living organisms are composed of molécules organiques. He wrote Histoire Naturelle in which he asserted that species were mutable; drew attention to vestigial organs and wrestled with the similarities of humans and apes and even talked about common ancestry of Man and apes (653, 654).

Martino Ghisi (IT) gave the first description of diphtheria to be complete and valid both clinically and anatomicopathologically. He clearly showed that bronchial and pulmonary edema caused by diphtheria strained the right side of the heart (989).

Jean-Baptiste de Sénac (FR) discussed the relation between cardiac size and its "force," attributing cardiac hypertrophy to valvular disease (710).

P.C. Antoine Louis (FR) was one of the earliest neurosurgeons on record. He studied and reported on brain tumors, usually meningiomas, and used his skill as a well-trained neurologist to localize the tumor (1532). He was also interested in contrecoup (injury caused by a blow on the opposite side, as the skull) injuries and was instrumental in advising other neurosurgeons to discontinue bloodletting for treatment of these injuries (777).


Griffith Hughes (GB) tells about the use of the fruit from the papaya or pawpaw tree, Caryca papaya, to tenderize meat (now known to contain the proteolytic enzyme papain). He was the first to use the phrase yellow fever during his description of an outbreak in Barbados (1259).


Jean de St. Cosme Baseilhac; Frère Côme (FR) invented the lithotome-caché for entering the urinary bladder. It possessed a cutting blade that disappeared into a groove on the rod shaped instrument (195). 


René Antoine Ferchault de Réaumur (FR) studied the solvent power of gastric juice in birds, dogs, and sheep. He established that gastric juice is salty and sour to the taste, acidic, and capable of dissolving meat and bones. He noted that gastric digestion is antagonistic to putrefactive change (706).

John Pringle (GB) in a paper entitled, Experiments and Observations upon Septic and Aseptic Substance, published as an appendix to his book, Observations on the Diseases of the Army, in which he laid down the true principles of military sanitation, emphasized the importance of antisepsis in medicine, and described the effect of various chemicals in halting putrefaction (1954). Serving with the British forces during the War of the Austrian Succession, he suggested in 1743 that military hospitals on both sides should be regarded as sanctuaries; this concept eventually led to the establishment of the Red Cross organization in 1864. See, Henri Dunant, 1861.

William Smellie (GB) disproved the widely held idea that a baby stands on its feet in the mother’s womb, tumbling over on its head a month or two before birth (2260).

Sauveur Francois Morand (FR) was the first to perform surgical drainage of a brain abscess when he successfully operated for a temporosphenoidal abscess. The patient, a monk, had otorrhea followed by a mastoid abscess, which Morand drained (1707).

London experiences many cases of smallpox (red plague).


Carl Linné; Carl von Linné; Carolus Linnaeus (SE) was the first to begin the systematic nomenclature of most of the algae, placing them with the pteridophytes (ferns, horsetails, and club-mosses), mosses, and fungi in a single class, the Cryptogamia (1514).

Samuel Sharp (GB) introduced the concept of intracapsular cataract surgery by using pressure with his thumb to remove the entire lens intact through an incision (2243). 


Charles Bonnet (CH) noted that submerged, illuminated leaves produce bubbles. He did not know the gas to be oxygen (318).

William Hunter GB), in 1754, described retroversion of the human uterus which he later published (1282). 

Horace Walpole (GB), in a letter of January 28, 1754, coined the word serendipity based on his reading of the 1722 edition of a fairy tale, The Travels and Adverntures of Three Princes of Serendip (502). Serendip has also been called Ceylon or Sri Lanka. The princes had the faculty of making unexpected happy discoveries by accident. Serendipity is an important aspect of the sciences.

Diphtheria and typhoid fever are epidemic in New England.

ca. 1755

Nicolas Desmarest (FR) was an amateur geologist and contemporary of James Hutton. He was the first to maintain that the streams that ran through them had formed valleys. He discovered that basalt is volcanic in origin and helped popularize the ideas of Jean-Etienne Guettard (FR) who maintained that many rocks were volcanic in origin. At this time the most popular idea was that all rocks were sedimentary (739).

Hilaire Marie Rouelle (FR), the cadet, was the first to suggest the chemical dissection of vegetable and animal substances by applying successively various organic solvents to the sample, and in order of the poorest solvent first, the next poorest solvent second, etc., so as to obtain different constituents from the complex mixture in the plant (2420).


Mathieu Tillet (FR) demonstrated that “bunt” of wheat was contagious and that it can be partly prevented by seed treatment (2425).

Gasparo Ferdinando Felice Fontana (IT) and Giovanni Targioni-Tozzetti (IT) independently concluded that cereal rust diseases are caused by microscopic plants (fungi) (901, 2389, 2390).

Isaac-Bénédict Prévost (FR) provided proof that fungi cause rust, bunt, smut, and other diseases of wheat and of oats and found that soaking the seeds in copper sulfate could control the disease (1941, 1942).


Jean-Etienne Guettard (FR) showed by dissection that naked snails belong to the same group as shelled ones (1060).

Philipp Pfaff (DE) gave the first description of a direct capping over of the vital pulp of teeth with a curved piece of gold. He also described how to use a wax impression of teeth to manufacture dentures (1886). 


Benjamin Franklin (US) was the first to call attention to the cooling effect of evaporation of liquids. He described the sudden fall in temperature when the mercury in a thermometer was moistened with alcohol and the fluid allowed to evaporate. This discovery showed that heat was required to evaporate liquids, and that in the process of evaporation of liquids heat is absorbed (931).

John Hill (GB) noted the effects of light on plant movement (1197).

Leopoldo Marc’ Antonio Caldani (IT) noted that when a Leyden jar was discharged in the direction of a mounted and dissected frog's leg with the nerve attached it caused the leg to twitch (438).

John Huxham (GB) observed paralysis of the soft palate, which attends diphtheria (1297).

Francis Home (GB) transmitted measles from infected patients to healthy individuals via blood thus demonstrating that an infectious agent caused measles. He attempted to vaccinate against measles and was likely the first to do so (813).

Albrecht von Haller (CH) wrote the first comprehensive treatise on human physiology: Elementa Physiologiae Corporis Humani (2588).

William Hunter (GB) distinguished the true from the false aneurysm. For him true aneurysms, formed by dilatation of the whole arterial wall, really existed. He termed a localized tear in the wall of a fusiform aneurysm as a mixed aneurysm (1276). See, Galen ca. 175.

William Hunter (GB) was the first to describe arterio-venous aneurysm (1277).

Carl Linné; Carl von Linné; Carolus Linnaeus (SE) coined the genus Homo to refer to varieties of living mankind (2602).


Dysentery (the "bloody flux") is epidemic in England.


Georg Christian Reichel (DE) and Karl Christian Wagner (DE) reported using hematoxylin (logwood) without a mordant to stain vessels in plant tissues prior to microscopic observation (356, 1999, 2000). 

Carl Linné; Carl von Linné; Carolus Linnaeus (SE) authored the 10th edition of his Systema Naturae which mentions 86 mammals. It can be considered the beginning of mammalogy as well as the beginning of the modern binary system of nomenclature (1513). Here is recorded the first description of the parasitic nematode Enterobius vermicularis (Oxyuris vermicularis, pinworm, threadworm) as the causative agent of enterobiasis.

Influenza is epidemic in Scotland (Whytt).


Kaspar Friedrich Wolff; Caspar Frederick Wolff (DE-RU) wrote Theoria Generationis in which he proposed an epigenetic theory of embryonic development opposing preformationism and laying the basis for modern embryology. The epigenetic theory introduced the idea that initially unspecialized cells later differentiate to produce the separate organs and systems of the plant and animal body. Wolff applied the microscope to the study of animal embryology and remarked, "The particles which constitute all animal organs in their earliest inception are little globules, which may be distinguished under a microscope." Several anatomical terms bear his name, the Wolffian body, an embryonic kidney, and the Wolffian duct (ureter primordalis) (2727, 2728). See, William Harvey, 1651.

Robert Bakewell (GB), Charles Collings (GB), Robert Collings (GB), Thomas Bates (GB), and others improved British livestock breeds through a thirty-year program of selection and inbreeding.

Bakewell demonstrated with his Leicester sheep and his long-horned cattle that animals of close relationship could be mated, and if rigid culling was practiced, desirable characteristics could thereby be fixed much more rapidly than by mating unrelated animals (9, 2258).

Johann George Leopoldt (DE) recorded one of the earliest clinical descriptions of scrapie, "Some sheep also suffer from scrapie, which can be identified by the fact that affected animals lie down, bite at their feet and legs, rub their backs against posts, fail to thrive, stop feeding and finally become lame. They drag themselves along, gradually become emaciated and die. Scrapie is incurable. The best solution, therefore, is for a shepherd who notices that one of his animals is suffering from scrapie, to dispose of it quickly and slaughter it away from the manorial lands, for consumption by the servants of the nobleman. A shepherd must isolate such an animal from healthy stock immediately because it is infectious and can cause serious harm to the flock" (1492). Scrapie is a spongiform encephalopathy known to occur primarily among sheep.

Edward Hyde (GB) described prostatism as follows: “He was very often, both in the Day and the Night, forced to make Water, seldom in any Quantity, because he could not retain it long enough” (1303).

John Bard (US), in 1759, reported three cases of laparotomy for extra-uterine pregnancy (170).

William Baynham (US) performed two successful operations for extra-uterine pregnancy (208).

Jean-Etienne Guettard (FR) wrote the earliest essentially paleoecologic paper on record (1061).

Giovanni Arduino (IT), in a letter of 30 March 1759 to his friend Antonio Vallisnieri, Jr.; Antonio Vallisneri, Jr. (IT), divided the history of the Earth into four ordini (units): Primitive (Primary), Secondary, Tertiary and Volcanic, or Quaternary comprising the Atesine Alps, the Alpine foothills, the sub-Alpine hills and the Po plain, respectively (116).

Giovanni Battista Brocchi (IT) reintroduced Tertiary as an appropriate name for the geological formation older than the Alluvial but younger than the Chalk (383).

Jean Desnoyers (FR), in 1829, popularized the term Quaternary (Quaternaire or Tertiaire récent) previously proposed by Arduino. Desnoyers applied it to marine sediments in the Seine Basin (740).

Charles Lyell (GB), in 1833, used Tertiary as a name for a geological period (1551).


Martin Frobenius Ledermüller (DE) suggested the name Infusoria for the microorganisms common to infusions (1476).

Peter Simon Pallas (DE) was the first to describe the human infection, fascioliasis, caused by the liver fluke Fasciola hepatica. He observed worms in the hepatic ducts of a female patient during an autopsy in Berlin, recalling it in a later publication (1824).

Ludwig Heinrich Bojanus (DE) while dissecting some snails from a fresh-water pond noticed that cercariae crept out of sacs in the viscera of the snails and concluded that they were probably generated within them. He and his editor speculated that there might well be a connection between cercariae and flukes (314).

Filippo de Filippi (IT) named these forms Redia in honor of Francesco Redi (666).

Friedrich Creplin (DE) showed that the eggs of Fasciola hepatica hatched ciliated larva (miracidia) (579).

Karl Theodor Ernst von Siebold (DE) theorized that the adult trematode worms produce eggs from which the larvae hatch, swim around to find an appropriate snail, penetrate the tissues of the new host, then die releasing cercariae-sacs (redia, rediae pl.) (2607, 2609).

Antoine Charles de Lorry (FR) reported that animals lost their sense of equilibrium following surgical removal of the cerebellum (686).

Antoine Charles de Lorry (FR) removed the cerebrum and the cerebellum of dogs and found that they maintained a normal pulse and respiration for a few minutes. He took this to mean that the medulla is the site controlling these vital functions (687).

César Julien Jean Legallois; César Julien Jean Le Gallois (FR), in 1812, was able to remove all of the brain rostral to the medulla oblongata along with the cerebellum in rabbits and noted that inspiratory movements persisted until the area of the medulla at the level of the eighth pair of cranial nerves was removed. At this point all respiratory movement ceased. He thus localized the respiratory center in a specific portion of the medulla oblongata and not in the spinal cord as had previously been believed (1478). This was the first time that an area of brain substance within a major subdivision of the brain had been accurately defined by experiment to have a specific function.

Marie-Jean-Pierre Flourens (FR) referred to the medulla oblongata as the noeud vital. He refined the location of the respiratory center to a very small portion of the medulla oblongata adjacent to the eighth pair of cranial nerves (885-887).


Domenico Felice Antonio Cotugno (IT) was the first to describe the fine anatomy of the inner ear. He identified the aqueduct of the inner ear (Cotunnius’ aquaduct) and the columns in the osseous spinal lamina of the cochlea (Cotunnius’ columns) (562).

Réne-Antoine Ferchault de Reaumur (FR) described his experiments on digestion in birds of prey. These articles probably contain the very first systematic observations on what we now call an enzyme (704).

William Hunter (GB) pointed out the distinction between the adipose tissue and the common reticular or cellular membrane. “Wherever there is fat in the human body I apprehend that there is a particular organization, or glandular apparatus, superadded to the reticular membrane, consisting of vesicles or bags, for lodging the animal oil, as well as vessels fitted for secretion; so that I would compare the marrow in the bones to the glandular or follicular parts of the fat or adipose membrane, and the network of bony fibers and laminae, which supports the marrow to the reticular membrane which is mixed with and supports the adeps.” 

He notes that pus of all kinds is preceded by inflammation (1278).

Johann Georg Roederer (DE) described the worm that causes whipworm infection or trichuriasis. He named it Trichuris meaning hair like tail (2053). Rodents are the natural host of this worm.

Leopold Joseph Auenbrugger (AT) is usually credited with being the first to promote precussion as a diagnostic procedure in medicine. Ahead of his time, Auenbrugger's work was criticized and ignored forcing him to retreat to private practice and other interests (132, 133). “I here present the Reader with a new sign I have discovered for detecting diseases of the chest. This consists in the Percussion of the human thorax, whereby, according to the character of the particular sounds thence elicited, an opinion is formed of the internal state of that cavity.” Thus percussion of the chest could, in a rough way, determine the heart size and the presence of hydrothorax (133).

 Giovanni Battista Morgagni; Giambattista Morgagni (IT), professor at Padua, was one of the first to make exhaustive studies of the structure of diseased tissue both during life and postmortem. He pioneered the investigation of disease by tracing its symptoms back to the organ(s) affected then demonstrating the disease in the organ concerned. In his great book, De Sedibus et Causis Morborum per Anatomen Indagatis, Libri Quinque (The Seats and Causes of Diseases Investigated by Anatomy, in Five Books), his very considerable pathological findings are arranged and indexed with symptoms listed, treatment indicated, relationship between clinical picture and autopsy findings noted, and a history of each disease included. He described, among other things, the first clear account of the Adams-Stokes syndrome, regional ileitis, coarctation of the aorta, the tetralogy of Fallot, coronary sclerosis, pulmonary stenosis, aortic insufficiency, mitral stenosis, syphilitic aneurysms, acute yellow atrophy of the liver, pneumonia with consolidation of the lungs, meningitis due to acute otitis, hyperostosis frontalis, cancer of the stomach, gastric ulcer, gall stones, endocarditis (linking it to infection), and for the first time cerebral gummata and heart block. He would not autopsy people who died of tuberculosis, smallpox, or rabies because he believed in contagion. Morgagni introduced and insisted that the diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment of disease must be based on an exact understanding of the pathologic changes in the anatomic structures (1711, 1712). Morgagni is rightly considered one of the founders of pathologic anatomy.

Rudolph Ludwig Karl Virchow the great German pathologist said, “With him [Morgagni] begins modern medicine” (2563).

John Hill (GB) noted that persons taking snuff through the nose were especially susceptible to nasal cancer (1198).


Influenza is pandemic (593).


Jacob Christian Gottlieb von Schäffer (DE) published Fungorum qui in Bavaria et Palatinatu Circa Ratisbonam Nascuntur Icones Nativis Coloribus Expressae, one of the first books on the fungi (2145).

Marcus Anton Plenciz; Marcus Anton Plencic (Yugoslavian) wrote Opera Medico-Physica… in which he formulated the view that infectious diseases are caused by a living agent which is often microscopic (1914).

Pierre Lyonet (NL) and Maurice Herold (DE) were the first to note the presence of insect tissues, which would come to be known as imaginal disc material. They did not appreciate its role in insect metamorphosis (1173, 1552).

John Hunter (GB) named the gubernaculum testis because it connects the testis with the scrotum, and directs its course in its descent (1260).

Johann Ulric Bilguer (AT/HU) may have been the first to resect the wrist (970).

Influenza is epidemic in Europe.


Edmund Stone (GB) presented the first scientific study of willow bark extract to the Royal Society in London. He had tested it on 50 feverish patients (2340).

A French chemist isolated salicin (named for the plant genus Salix in which it is common, especially Salix alba) from queen-of-the-meadow Spiraea ulmaria. Decoctions of willow had for centuries been used for the treatment of gout, rheumatism, neuralgia, toothache, earache, and other pains. In 1838, salicylic acid (spirsäure) was made directly from salicin. While salicylic acid has many medical uses in treatment of such things as fungal infections of the skin, hair, and nails neither it nor salicin could be taken internally for pain.

Charles Frédéric Gerhardt (FR) added acetyl chloride to a sodium salicylate mixture to yield acetylsalicylic acid which can be taken internally (984).

Adolph Wilhelm Hermann Kolbe (DE) discovered a reaction process by which he could synthesize salicylic acid. The process was named the Kolbe synthesis or the Kolbe-Schmitt reaction. This soon led to the cheap production of acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin) (1398, 2173).

In 1897, in Germany, Felix Hoffmann (DE) synthesized acetylsalicylic acid from salicylic acid. His employer, Farbenfabriken vormals Friedrich Bayer & Co., named it aspirin. The prefix ‘a-’ stands for the acetyl group… The root, ‘spir,’ stands for spirsäure (salicylic acid) distilled from the flowers of the queen-of-the-meadow (Spiraea ulmaria).” Salicylic acid was also derived from willow bark and oil of wintergreen. Aspirin became one of the most widely used drugs in history. An application for a German patent was rejected, because in fact acetylsalicylic acid was not a new substance, having been first synthesized in 1853 by Gerhardt (FR), in impure form, and later in crystalline form by Carl Johann Kraut (DE).

Michel Adanson (FR) proposed the first natural classification of flowering plants. He advocated an empirical approach to taxonomy based on shared characters rather than evolutionary relationships. In his Familles des Plantes he described taxa more or less equivalent to modern orders and families (30). Adansonia, the Baobab tree genus, is named in his honor. He introduced the use of the term family to designate closely related genera.

John Hunter (GB) prepared the first catalog of his museum specimens in 1763. “The specimens were arranged in three main groups, viz., to demonstrate structures developed for the survival of the individual, those for the preservation of the race, and a third group demonstrating a great variety of pathological conditions” (1970).

John Morgan (US) studied medicine in Paris, Italy, and Edinburgh graduating from the medical school of the University of Edinburgh with a doctor of medicine degree. His doctor’s thesis, De Puopoiesi [Concerning the Formation of Pus], maintained that pus was produced from the blood vessels (1572).

Francois Boissier de Sauvages (FR), Rudolph Augustin Vogel (DE), and William Cullen (GB), in the 18th century, reintroduced into medicine the term paranoia to indicate morbus mentis in general (591, 2129, 2564, 2565). Note: The origin of the term, "paranoia", was in the Greek word "par-a-noy'a", derived from the verb "para-noeo", with the literal meaning of "derangement", or "departure from the normal" ("para") in "thinking" ("noeo").

Smallpox (red plague) hit Boston once again, with about 170 deaths. This epidemic was less serious than previous ones, probably because of inoculation (1396).


William Hunter (GB) reported that he and his brother John discovered, by the injection of mercury, that the vas deferens, epididymis, and the tubuli within the testes are connected (1279, 1280).


Lazzaro Spallanzani (IT) was one of the first to dispute the doctrine of spontaneous generation (2289).

Anton Balthasar Raymund Hirsch (AT) described the large flattened sensory ganglion of the trigeminal nerve, which he named the Gasserian ganglion. It is an intercranial structure, which is located, just proximal and lateral to the foramen ovale and has three branches: the ophthalmic, maxillary and mandibular (1209). Note: Hirsch named it to honor Johann Laurentius Gasser (AT).

The medical school established at the College of Philadelphia, in Pennsylvania, was the first founded in the United States of America. John Morgan (US), who had received extensive medical training abroad, was the driving force for the creation of this medical school. The college trustees appointed him professor of the theory and practice of physic, the first medical professorship in North America. William Shippen served as the first professor of anatomy, surgery and midwifery. In 1768, the degree of M.B. was conferred on eight graduates (1572). It is now the School of Medicine of the University of Pennsylvania.

Francis Home (GB) described the false membrane of diphtheria (croup) at autopsy, “When the trachea was opened the whole internal surface was covered with a membrane for three inches downward from the glottis. This membrane was complete all around, did not adhere to the trachea, and came off in the shape of a hollow tube. The natural coats of the trachea seemed entire and not ulcerated. The substance of the lungs was quite sound; but the vesicles of the left lobe were filled with yellow, thick pus, which sunk in water. The new-formed membrane had some degree of tenacity, and when steeped in milk-warm water for two days did not dissolve, but preserved some degree of cohesion. No fibers could be observed in it” (1233).


Henry Cavendish (GB) described inflammable air, produced by the action of acids on metals and fixed air (carbon dioxide) produced during yeast fermentation and absorbed by sope leys (aqueous sodium hydroxide). Antoine Laurent Lavoisier (FR) would name this inflammable air hydrogen from the Greek words hydro and genes meaning water and generator. Cavendish observed that when inflammable air was mixed with air an explosive mixture was formed. After exploding such a mixture in a flask, he noted that the walls were covered with moisture; and drew the correct conclusion that this water was formed by the union of fire air (oxygen) with inflammable air (hydrogen) (469, 470). Note: Hydrogen makes up two of the three atoms in water and water is absolutely essential to life. Hydrogen is present in all organic compounds. A form of water in which both hydrogen atoms are replaced by deuterium (2H, or D) is called "heavy water" (D2O) and is toxic to mammals. Some bacteria are known to metabolize molecular hydrogen (H2).

Michael Christoph Hanov (PL) wrote Philosophiae Naturalis Sive Physicae Dogmaticae: Geologia, Biologia, Phytologia Generalis et Dendrologia. This book contains the first use of the word biology in its modern sense (1103).

Gottfried Reinhold Treviranus (DE) and Jean Baptiste Pierre Antoine de Monet Chevalier de Lamarck (FR) helped popularize the term after its introduction (680, 2442).

Johan Ernst Gunnerus (NO) described Calanus finmarchicus, a marine planktonic copepod that is the predominant herbivore in Atlantic water south of the Polar Front (1072, 1073). It is the principle food of herring and the rorqual whale.

Peter Simon Pallas (DE) was the first to depict the relationships between animals in the form of a family tree (1826).

John Bartram (GB-US) was referred to by Linnaeus as "the greatest natural botanist in the world." He was surely the best in North America during this time (191). John was the father of William Bartram (US) the first significant American-born naturalist. William wrote Travels Through North & South Carolina, Georgia, East & West Florida (192).


Peter Simon Pallas (DE) may be the first naturalist who observed and described the regenerative power of a freshwater planarian species (1827).

John Graham Dalyell (GB) performed experiments demonstrating planarian regeneration (614).

The Medical Faculty of King’s College, New York was establishment in1767. It was suspended 1776, re-organized 1784, then re-established in 1807 as the College of Physicians and Surgeons in the City of New York, now the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University. It is the second oldest medical school in the U.S.A.

Gasparo Ferdinando Felice Fontana (IT) supported Albrecht von Haller’s concept of contractility as a property of muscle, noting that contraction only follows after a stimulus. He clearly observed and described the physiological state in the heart later known as the refractory period and noted that fatigue is a phenomenon occurring within the muscle fiber itself. He observed that stretching and compressing muscle causes it to loose contractility. He gives the first accurate description of the nerve fiber. His analogies between the spark-gunpowder and stimulus-contraction relationships anticipated the all or none law (831, 896, 897, 1600).

John Harvie (GB) advocated external expression of the placenta instead of traction of the cord, anticipating Carl Siegmund Franz Credé’s (DE) method by almost a century (1124).

Robert Whytt (GB) was the first to describe tuberculous meningitis, distinguishing definite stages in the course of the disease (2687).

Frédéric Rilliet (FR) and Antoine Charles Ernest de Barthez (FR) differentiated simple meningitis from the tuberculous form. They proved that simple meningitis develops invariably upon the convexity of the brain, while tuberculous meningitis is almost always localized at the base (2036). 

John Huxham (GB) was the first use the term influenza in English. He was discussing the vernal catarrh of 1743 (1298).

Europe experiences an influenza pandemic.


James Cook (GB) set sail on the H.M.S. Endeavour bound for the South Pacific. Accompanying Cook was the naturalist Joseph Banks (GB), who collected tens of thousands of plant and animal specimens and initiated the exchange of flora and fauna between Europe, the Americas, and the South Seas. The voyage was from 1768-1779.

Lazzaro Spallanzani (IT) described regenerative capacities of remarkable complexity and repetitiveness in the land snail, salamander, toad and frog, establishing the general law that an inverse ratio obtains between the regenerative capacity and age of individual. He includes an account of regeneration of the decapitated head of the snail (2290).

Johan Gottlieb Gahn (SE) discovered that the principal part of the inorganic matter of bones is calcium phosphate. He and Carl Wilhelm Scheele (DE-SE) discovered that phosphorus is essential for bone formation (952, 2156).

William Heberden (GB) was the first to clearly demonstrate that chickenpox is different from smallpox (red plague) (1137). The disease is called varicella, meaning little smallpox (variola). The name chickenpox possibly derives from the patient’s skin resembling that of a plucked chicken.

Benjamin Rush (US) while a student at Edinburgh, performed experiments on himself and fellow students in an attempt to understand human digestion (2090). He published, in the newspaper, Cyananche trachealis, which was one of the first medical papers in the New World.

In his 30 years experience in charge of mental patients at the Pennsylvania Hospital he noted that heredity, injuries, malformation of the brain, diseases of the body, and drugs were important in mental illness. He subsequently wrote, Medical Inquiries and Observations, Upon the Diseases of the Mind, the first American textbook on psychiatry (2099).

It was Rush who in describing yellow fever coined the name yellow fever (2095). See, Griffith Hughes, 1750.

Rush wrote against slavery, assisted Thomas Paine in the production of his pamphlet—even suggesting the name Common Sense. He was a delegate to the Continental Congress and a signatory of the Declaration of Independence in 1776 (2092-2094, 2096, 2097, 2099, 2100). Rush Medical College in Chicago was named for him in 1834. 

William Hunter (GB) reported that in his opinion the bones of a large elephant-like creature found in Ohio came from an extinct animal (1281). This work is most significant because it defied the Great Chain of Being concept.


Francois Paul Lyon Poulletier de la Salle (FR) was the first to find what would later be named cholesterol. He isolated it from gallstones (1562).

Edward Bancroft (US) suggested that the torpedo fish (Torpedo sp.) was capable of delivering a shock of electricity (162).


Smallpox (red plague) kills three million people in the East Indies.


John Hill (GB) introduced new techniques for macerating, preserving, and staining woody materials. He employed alum, alcohol, and cochineal dyes (carmine extracted from female scale insects, Croccus spp.) in preparing specimens for microscopic study. This paper records the first use of carmine to dye objects for microscopic examination.

Alexander Cumming (GB), in 1770, produced the first cutting machines (microtomes) for preparing thin soft tissue sections for John Hill. It could cut sections as thin as 130 micrometers (1199, 1200).

Andrew Pritchard (GB), ca. 1835, produced a similar device attached to a table for stability (1956).

Charles Chevalier (FR), in 1839, named these tissue cutting instruments microtomes (493).

Wilhelm His (CH) made significant progress in perfecting the microtome (1211).

Spencer Lens Co., in 1901-1910, manufactured the first clinical microtome and a larger more accurate laboratory microtome (262).

John Rutty (GB) gave a clinical description of relapsing fever (2103).

Gottfried Wilhelm Schilling (DE) described yaws (Indian pox) (2164).

Mongin (FR) provided the first definitive record of Loiasis (Eye Worm) caused by Loa loa. He described the worm passing across the eye of a woman in Santa Domingo, in the Caribbean, and recounts how he tried unsuccessfully to remove it (1698).

Francois Guyot (FR), in 1778, noted that slaves in transit from West Africa to America suffered from recurrent ophthalmia and successfully removed a Loa loa worm from one of them (1255). He named this parasitic worm.

Stephen McKenzie (GB) discovered microfilariae in 1890 and sent them for identification to Patrick Manson (GB), who speculated that these might be the larvae of Loa loa (1594).

Douglas Moray Cooper Lamb Argyll Robertson (GB) gave a detailed description of a case of Loa loa in which the parasite was removed from under the conjunctiva (2046).

Robert Thompson Leiper (GB) determined that biting flies of the genus Chrysops transmit Loa loa microfilariae (1482).

Domenico Felice Antonio Cotugno (IT) differentiated arthritis from nervous sciatica (Cotugno’s disease), and concluded that the sciatic nerve is responsible for the latter, and in discussing it for the first time gives a detailed description of the cerebrospinal fluid, and showed that the congealed protein (albumin) in the heated urine of a nephrotic patient (a person afflicted with dropsy) is a diagnostic sign (563, 564). See, Magendie, 1825

King’s College, New York conferred the first medical degree awarded in the United States upon Robert Tucker.

A little-known 1770 epidemic that killed 15,000 people in Saint-Domingue (modern Haiti) was probably intestinal anthrax. The epidemic spread rapidly throughout the colony in association with consumption of uncooked beef (1710).


New York experiences a diphtheria epidemic.


Peter Woulfe (GB) made the dye picric acid as an accidental by-product of the action of nitric acid on the dye indigo (2739).

Percivall Pott (GB) was the first to report a correlation between exposure to a chemical and incidence of cancer. He studied chimney sweeps who had been exposed to soot and exhibiting scrotal tumors. The cancer was called soot-wart (1932-1934). Pott’s name has been perpetuated in three other diseases that he described: a tumor of the scalp (1930); a fracture of the leg (1931); and gangrene in the legs of the aged (1933).

Josephus Theophilus Kölreuter ; Joseph Gottlieb Kölreuter; Joseph Gottlieb Koelreuter (DE) was the first to clearly distinguish acanthocephalan worms from other intestinal worms. He coined the name Acanthocephalus (Gk. akantho, spiny, kephalo, head) (1400). These worms are commonly called hookworms.

William Hewson (GB) discovered the lymphatic system in birds, fish, and amphibians and gave the best early description of erythrocytes and leukocytes. He also discovered that coagulable lymph (fibrinogen) is essential for blood clotting and that following sedimentation the coagulum property resides in the upper liquid part of the blood, above the red cells. Hewson proposed that leukocytes are progenitors of erythrocytes in the blood—hematopoietic stem cells circulate— (1186-1190). See, Gulliver, Henle, Vogel, and Hewson, 1838 

Benjamin Guy Babington (GB) concluded that blood contains a soluble precursor to fibrin (fibrinogen) (144).

John Hunter (GB) wrote the first thorough scientific treatise on dentistry in English. In it he recommended that diseased pulp must be removed before filing and correctly guessed that a tooth might be moved some distance within the mouth if the move was by slow degrees. He coined the words cuspids, bicuspids, and molars (1262, 1266, 1272, 1273).

John Hunter (GB) was one of the first to perform successful autografts (moving tissue from place to place within the same individual) and syngeneic grafts (moving tissue between individuals of the same inbred strain). “Taking off the spur of a cock, and fixing it to his comb, is an old and well known experiment. I have frequently taken out the testis of a cock and replaced it in his belly, where it had adhered, and has been nourished; nay, I have put the testis of a cock into the belly of a hen with the same effect” (1272, 1273). Note: The spur, being an outgrowth of the tarsometatarsus, contained a solid mass of bone within it therefore it can be considered a bone transplant. Hunter described in his book, the The Natural History of the Human Teeth, the successful reimplantation of a premolar that was lost through trauma. Thereafter, he conducted his famous experiments on the transplantation of human tooth into the comb of a cock (1262). 

Georges-Louis Leclerc Comte de Buffon (FR) suggested that the Earth was 75,000 years old, much older than the 6,000 years proclaimed by the church, and discussed concepts very similar to Charles Lyell's uniformitarianism which was formulated 40 years later (655). The Faculty of Theology at the Sorbonne later forced him to recant everything in his book, which did not agree with the narration of Moses.


Joseph Gillies Priestley (GB-US), in 1772, discovered nitrous oxide, which he called nitrous air, and hydrochloric acid gas. He observed that growing plants could restore air in which candles had burned out and rediscovered oxygen by heating mercuric oxide until it separated into mercury and a gas. He called the gas dephlogisticated air and noted that combustibles burned more brilliantly in it than in air (1949). See, Mayow, 1669 presented in 1668.

Antoine Laurent Lavoisier (FR) named this gas principe oxygène (oxygen) (1455, 1456).

Carl Wilhelm Scheele (DE-SE) also discovered oxygen at about this same time. He called it empyreal and noted that it supported a fire. He observed that it is fundamental to the respiration and growth of plants (2149, 2151). There is some evidence that Scheele preceded Priestly in the rediscovery of oxygen.

Joseph Gillies Priestley (GB-US) and William Hey (GB) observed that animals, including man, were stimulated by inhaling this gas and concluded that green plants restore freshness to air by producing this gas. He demonstrated that blood readily absorbs oxygen from the atmosphere (1949, 1950, 1952, 1953).

Daniel Rutherford (GB) is credited with discovering nitrogen by allowing air to support combustion until it lost this ability, then bubbling the treated air through strong alkali to remove any carbon dioxide. The air that remained was foul smelling and noxious. Rutherford called it phlogisticated air, Carl Wilhelm Scheele (DE-SE) also discovered it and called it foul air, Antoine Laurent Lavoisier (FR) named it azote (without life), and Jean Antoine Claude Chaptal (FR) called it nitrogen (from the Greek words nitron genes meaning nitre and forming and the Latin word nitrum) (485, 749, 1451, 1453, 2102, 2149, 2156, 2649). Note: Nitrogen is a key component of biological molecules such as proteins and nucleic acids. The nitrogen cycle in nature is very important.

Joseph Gillies Priestley (GB-US) described a method for locating the eye’s blind spot (1948). 

Antonio Scarpa (IT) gave an accurate and complete description of the osseous labyrinth of man, the pig, and the hen. He demonstrated the true function of the round window within the ear (2131).


Hilaire Marin Rouelle (FR), the cadet, discovered hippuric acid in the urine of cows. He thought it was benzoic acid (1094).

Hilaire Marin Rouelle (FR), the cadet, found that green leaves contain protein (2071).

Hilaire Marin Rouelle (FR), the cadet, was the first to report the presence of sodium chloride in the blood (2070, 2072).

Hilaire Marin Rouelle (FR), the cadet, in 1776, discovered the alkalinity of the blood using titration and color indicators. Ref

Henry Bence Jones (GB), a physician at St. George’s Hospital in London, recognized the relationship between blood alkalinity and stomach acid secretion (232). Blood becomes neutral to alkaline following a meal (alkaline tide) while secretion of acid into the stomach rises.

Friedrich Walter (LV) discovered that the value of the carbon dioxide concentration of blood could be used as an index of its alkalinity. This made it possible to study acidosis and alkalosis by extracting from and quantifying the carbon dioxide in blood (2634).

Erik Wainø Andersen (DK), Bjørn Ibsen (DK), Poul Bjørndahl Astrup (DK) and John W. Severinghaus (US), during a polio epidemic in Copenhagen, determined that in patients with respiratory insufficiency a high blood CO2 content and alkalosis are not related (84, 128). 

Otto Friedrich Müller; Otto Friedrich Mueller (DK) placed all bacteria in a single species Monas termo believing that these organisms were highly variable in shape (pleomorphic) but essentially the same in all other properties (1735). Later he decided that a second genus, Vibrio, was justified. 

Müller is credited with inventing the naturalist’s dredge and being the first to describe diatoms (1737).

Johann August Ephraim Goeze (DE) discovered the tardigrades (waterbears or moss piglets). He called them kleiner wasserbär (Bärtierchen today), meaning 'little water bear'. They are water-dwelling, segmented, micro-animals, with eight legs (321). Note: they are renowned for their tolerance of harsh living conditions such as anhydrobiosis.

Lazzaro Spallanzani coined the name Tardigrada, meaning "slow walker" (2291).

John Walsh (GB) wired the electric ray, Torpedo marmorata, to a series of bowls of water, interlinked by people placing a hand in each bowl. When the wire was led back to the fish and the circuit completed a palpable shock was felt by all, proving that the phenomenon was electrical and could be transmitted through conducting objects (2632). Electric fish had been known from antiquity.

Richard D. Keynes (GB) confirmed that the electric organ does not function spontaneously and that it is always under the control of the central nervous system (1373).

Charles White (GB) succeeded in tracing transmission in puerperal fevers (childbed fever) to the practices of certain midwives and obstetricians. He insisted on absolute cleanliness during delivery and was thus a pioneer in aseptic midwifery. White proposed almost complete non-interference with the second stage of labor. He advised against grabbing the infant’s head and pulling when it crowned and thought it unnecessary to pull on the child’s armpits in order to deliver the shoulders (2680).

Aubrey Eccles (US) suggested that White’s work stands as a major turning point in the history of obstetrics (797).

Edward Strother (GB) had introduced the phrase puerperal fever in 1716 (2352).

Alexander Gordon (GB), in 1793, demonstrated the contagiousness of puerperal fever (childbed fever). "This disease seized such women only as were visited or delivered by a practitioner or taken care of by a nurse who had previously attended patients affected with the disease. In short, I had evident proof of its infectious nature" (1024).

Robert Collins (GB), in 1835, discussed in his Treatise on Midwifery the reasons for his excellent record in preventing the spread of puerperal fever (childbed fever) while he was Master of the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin.

Because of the puerperal fever (childbed fever) in 1829, “it was deemed advisable at once to recommend that no patients, except as were absolutely destitute, should be admitted; … until the entire wards of the hospital should be thoroughly purified. We then had all the wards in rotation filled with chlorine gas in a very condensed form, for the space of 48 hours, during which time the windows, doors and fireplaces were closed so as to prevent its escape as much as possible. The floors and all the woodwork were then covered with the chlorine of lime, mixed with water to the consistence of cream, which was left for 48 hours more. The woodwork was then painted and the walls and ceilings washed with fresh lime. The blankets, etc. were in most instances scoured, and all stored in a temperature between 120° and 130°. From the time this was completed until the termination of my mastership in November, we did not lose one patient by this disease” (535).

Oliver Wendell Holmes (US), in 1843, deduced from the reports of many physicians that, “The disease known as Puerperal Fever is so far contagious as to be frequently carried from patient to patient by physicians and nurses.” He further stated, “1. A physician holding himself in readiness to attend cases of midwifery should never take any active part in the postmortem examination of cases of puerperal fever. 2. If a physician is present at such autopsies, he should use thorough ablution, change every article of dress, and allow twenty-four hours or more to elapse before attending to any case of midwifery. It may be well to extend the same caution to cases of simple peritonitis. 3. Similar precautions should be taken after the autopsy or surgical treatment of cases of erysipelas, if the physician is obliged to unite such offices with his obstetrical duties, which is in the highest degree inexpedient. 4. On the occurrence of a single case of puerperal fever in his practice, the physician is bound to consider the next female he attends in labor to be in danger of being infected by him unless some weeks at least have elapsed, and it is his duty to take precaution to diminish her risk of disease and death. 5. If within a short period two cases of puerperal fever happen close to each other in the practice of the same physician, the disease not existing or prevailing in the neighborhood, he would do wisely to relinquish his obstetrical practice for at least one month, and endeavor to free himself by very available means from any noxious influence he may carry about with him. 6. The occurrence of three or more closely connected cases in the practice of one individual, no others existing in the neighborhood, and no other sufficient cause being alleged for the coincidence, is prima facie evidence that he is the vehicle of contagion. 7. It is the duty of the physician to take every precaution that the disease shall not be introduced by nurses or other assistants, by making proper inquiries concerning them, and giving timely warning of every suspected source of danger. 8. Whatever indulgence may be granted to those who have heretofore been the ignorant causes of so much misery, the time has come when the existence of a private pestilence in the sphere of a single physician should be looked upon, not as a misfortune, but a crime; and in the knowledge of such occurrences the duties of the practitioner to his profession should give way to his paramount obligations to society (1224, 1225).

Ignác Fülöp Semmelweis; Ignaz Philipp Semmelweis (HU), working in Vienna, was involved in daily care of women in childbirth, many of whom died of puerperal fever (childbed fever). He carried out painstaking postmortem examinations on puerperal fever deaths, including one on his most intimate friends, Kolletschka, a fellow physician. Kolletschka died a few days after a small scalpel wound of his finger occurred while performing an autopsy on a case of puerperal fever. The lesions in Kolletschka’s and the women’s cases were so similar that Semmelweis’ eyes were opened to the tragic truth. He showed that in the First Maternity Clinic with its death losses of 9.9%, the physicians and students were carrying cadaverous material on their hands directly from the postmortem rooms to the lying-in wards where they were making vaginal examinations, frequently without even washing their hands. Enforced cleanliness and required scrubbing of the hands in a solution of chlorinated lime (CaOCl2) reduced the death losses promptly, eventually to the amazingly low figure of 0.39%. Semmelweis met with jealous opposition; he was bitterly attacked by his superiors and was denied the appropriate obstetrical appointment. He died disappointed and disoriented in 1865 (2209-2212, 2590, 2591). Note: Chlorinated lime was produced primarily to disinfect and deodorize sewage. Von Hebra wrote the 1847 and 1849 articles for Semmelweis.

Johann Baptist Chiari (AT), Carl von Fernwald Braun (DE) and Joseph Späth (DE) wrote the first textbook ever to present the theories of Ignaz Philipp Semmelweis on hand washing as a means of preventing the spread of puerperal fever (childbed fever) (496).

William Bromfield (GB) invented an artery-retractor, and the double gorgeret (389).


"Oh, how happy I am!  No care for eating or drinking or dwelling, no care for my pharmaceutical business, for this is mere play to me.  But to watch new phenomena this is all my care, and how glad is the enquirer when discovery rewards his diligence; then his heart rejoices." Carl Wilhelm Scheele, in a letter to Johann Gahn, December 26, 1774 (2423)

 Friedrich Casimir Medicus (DE) introduced the term lebenskraft (vital force) to animal chemistry (1654).

Perhaps the first use of lebenskraft can be found in the German translation of Albrecht von Haller’s De Partibus Corporis Humani Sensilibus et Irritabilibus (1753) in 1772 (2587).

Joseph Gillies Priestley (GB-US) discovered ammonia (1951).

Carl Wilhelm Scheele (DE-SE) was the first to make chlorine, a member of the halogen (salt-forming) group of metallic elements. He produced it by heating pyrolusite (MnO2) with hydrochloric acid and obtaining a greenish-yellow gas, which he failed to recognize as an element (698, 2153, 2156).

Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac (FR), Louis Jacques Thénard (FR) and Humphry Davy (GB) were the first to recognize the true elemental nature of chlorine gas. See, Gay-Lussac, 1809 and Humphry Davy, 1809.

Bonaventura Corti (IT), from his observations in the cells of water plants such as Chara and Nitella, was the first to report cytoplasmic streaming (cyclosis) (557).

Ludolph Christian Treviranus (DE) would rediscover cyclosis (2443).

Johann Friedrich Meckel (DE) presented indirect evidence for an association of the adrenal glands with sexual function. He also cited abnormalities of the adrenal glands in cases associated with sexual abnormalities (castration, syphilis, etc.) (1651). 

William Hunter (GB) completed his greatest medical work, Anatomia Uteri Humani Gravidi Tabulis Illustrata [Anatomy of the Human Gravid Uterus Exhibited in Figures] In the preface he wrote: "... in the year 1751 the author met with the first favorable opportunity of examining the human species, what before he had been studying in brutes. A woman died suddenly, when very near the end of her pregnancy; the body was procured before any insensible putrefaction had begun; the season of the year was favorable to dissection; the injection of blood vessels proved successful; a very able painter, in this way, was found; every part was examined in the most public manner, and the truth well authenticated..." (1283).

Samuel Thomas Sömmerring (DE) dealt with the appearance of the human embryo during the first half of pregnancy (2283). William Hunter (GB) had already done so for the last half of pregnancy. See, above.

Jean-Louis Petit (FR) invented the screw tourniquet, devised herniotomy without opening the sac, reported the first successful operation for mastoiditis, and demonstrated the mechanism of the occlusion of arteries in wounds. Here is described the operation where Petit became the first, in 1736, to open the mastoid process (1881).

William Kerr (GB), in 1774, amputated at the hip joint in the case of a consumptive girl of eleven or twelve years, who had coxalgia with lumbar abscess and extensive caries of the acetabulum, and of the adjacent parts of the ossa innominatum. The patient survived for seventeen days. This is the first authentic instance of a true amputation at the hip joint (1367).

Walter Brashear (US), in 1806, treated a seventeen-year-old boy with a fracture of the thigh by successfully amputating his leg at the hip joint (1054).

Valentine Mott (US) successfully amputated at the hip-joint (1727).

George James Guthrie (GB), in 1815, successfully amputated at the hip joint (1076).

Edward Shipper (US) performed a successful amputation at the hip joint during the American Civil War (1812).

Washington Joseph Duffee (US), in 1840, performed a primary amputation at the hip joint in a case of coxalgia. The patient experienced a full recovery (787).


"Variola ravaged the greater part of North America, from Mexico to Massachusetts, from Pensacola to Puget Sound…and took many more American lives than the war with the British did." The Native American Indians also suffered great loss of life to smallpox during this period (851).


“Why do you ask me a question, by the way of solving it. I think your solution is just; but why think, why not try the experiment?” John Hunter. Letter to Edward Jenner (1274, 2446)

Antoine Laurent Lavoisier (FR) demonstrated that combustion and the calcination of metals always involves combination with oxygen (1450).

Mathieu Tillet (FR) gave experimental proof that bunt of wheat (caused by the smut fungus Tilletia caries, named for Tillet) is contagious. This may well be the first proof that a fungus could cause a plant disease (2424).

Johann Christian Fabricius; Johann Christian Schmitt (DK) originated the maxillary or cibarian system of classification of insects in which mouth parts were used to separate the orders. This system recognized thirteen orders of which only one, the Odonata, survives today (836). 

Peter Christian Abildgaard (DK) described ventricular fibrillation induced in a hen. “With a shock to the head, the animal was rendered lifeless, and arose with a second shock to the chest; however, after the experiment was repeated rather often, the hen was completely stunned, walked with some difficulty, and did not eat for a day and night; then later it was very well and even laid an egg” (21).

Charles Blagden (GB) performed experiments testing the human body’s response to extreme heat. He noted the importance of perspiration in maintaining the body at a constant temperature (286).

Mr. Squires (GB) performed the first known cardiac defibrillation. “…a 3-year-old child named Catherine Sophie Greenhill, who had fallen from an upper story window onto flagstones, and been pronounced dead. The society member, an apothecary named Squires, was on the scene within twenty minutes, and history records that he proceeded to give the clinically dead child several shocks through the chest with a portable electrostatic generator. This treatment caused her to regain pulse and respiration, and she eventually (after a time in coma) recovered fully” (2305).

William Henly (GB) advocated the use of electrical stimulation for cardiac resuscitation (1159).

John Hunter (GB), in 1776, proposed that electricity be tried when other methods have failed to revive a drowning person. He noted that the first action should be to ventilate the lungs (1265, 1272). Note: At this time, bleeding followed by application of salt and strong volatiles was the widely accepted treatment for a drowning person.

Walter Hayle Walshe (GB) and Stanton A. Friedberg (GB) described the significance of electrical stimulation in the treatment of cardiac arrest (2633).

John A. McWilliam (GB) documented the effect of electrical stimulation on contraction of the heart of a cat. He concluded that it had to be possible to treat bradycardia and cardiac arrest with electrical stimulation in humans also. He noted that the heart could be stimulated to adhere to a certain frequency by regular impulses, which were controlled by a metronome (1647). 

Mark Cowley Lidwill (AU), in 1928, was able to use electrical stimulation of the heart to save the life of a child born in cardiac arrest (1696).

Claude Schaeffer Beck (US), Walter H. Pritchard (US), and Harold S. Feil (US) performed the first successful defibrillation of a surgical patient, with the chest opened, and the paddles applied directly to the heart (212).

Bernard Lown (LT-US), Raghavan Amarasingham (US), and Jose Neuman (US) described the use of a synchronized capacitor discharge for terminating cardiac arrhythmias (1541). Bernard Lown was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1985.

Théophile de Bordeu (FR) speculated that each gland, organ, tissue, and cell of the body produces secretions that pass into the blood stream and influence other glands and tissues. He suggested that secondary sex characteristics and behavior might be influenced by secretions (humors) of the gonads (649, 650). This may be considered the beginning of modern endocrinology.

Franz Anton Mesmer (DE) introduced animal magnetism (later called hypnosis) (1667, 1668).

There was an influenza pandemic.

New England had a diphtheria epidemic.


There was a scarlet fever pandemic.


Carl Wilhelm Scheele (DE-SE) made the dye murexide (2156).

Carl Wilhelm Scheele (DE-SE) and Torbern Olof Bergman (SE) independently discovered uric acid (2148, 2157). Scheele called it “acid of calculus”. Bergman found it in a stone from the bladder.

Lazzaro Spallanzani (IT) was a master of experiment and performed many well designed experiments, which indicated that heating prevents the appearance of animalcules in infusions although the length of heating time necessary to sterilize was variable. He noted that animalcules were constant in their times of appearance, progression, and displacement by others. His experiments show that after infusions remain barren for a long time a small crack on the neck of the flask is sufficient to allow the development of animalcules in the infusions. He concluded that it is not sufficient merely to seal the flasks hermetically. It is not enough merely to boil the infusions. To render an infusion permanently barren or sterile it is necessary, in addition, that the included air in the flask should contain no animalcules.

Spallanzani showed clearly that hot air is a much less effective means of sterilization than actual contact with hot or boiling water. 

While studying the efficiency of heat for killing animalcules he discovered that animalcules could be divided into two groups based on their sensitivity to heat. One group is killed by boiling at 212°F for 30 seconds. The other group is killed only after 212°F boiling for up to 45 minutes.

In 1776, he observed that animalcules could grow in a high vacuum (2291, 2297).

John Walsh (GB), in a letter to Jean-Baptiste Le Roy (FR), reported that he had obtained a visible spark from an electric fish, the eel of Surinam (Gymnotus) (1462). This experiment was very important because it promoted fresh interest in the possible involvement of electricity in the animal physiology. 

Emanuel Mendes Da Costa (PT-GB) anonymously wrote Elements of Conchology, or, An Introduction to the Knowledge of Shells while in jail for embezzlement from the Royal Society of London. In this publication the word conchology appeared for the first time (605).

Matthew Dodson (GB) published the first experimental evidence demonstrating that diabetes is a systemic disorder rather than, as had been previously thought, a primary disease of the kidneys. In a series of experiments he re-discovered a sweet-tasting substance not only in the urine of diabetics but in their serum as well. He went on to prove that this substance was sugar (755).

John Fothergill (GB) gave one of the first descriptions of coronary artery disease as seen on autopsy. “The two coronary arteries, from their origin to many of their ramifications upon the heart, were become one piece of bone" (908).

Caleb Hillier Parry (GB) presented, An inquiry into the Symptoms and Causes of the Syncope Anginosa Commonly Called Angina Pectoris, Illustrated by Dissection before the Gloucester Medical Society in 1788. This work is based upon experiments with sheep and is the first correct explanation for the mechanism of angina. It was not published until 1799 (1852). See, Edward Jenner under Heberden, 1802.

Matthew Baillie (GB) related angina pectoris and coronary artery blockage in this way, “Ossification of the coronary arteries would seem to produce, or to be intimately connected with, the symptoms which constitute angina pectoris. These consist of a pain, which shoots from the middle of the sternum across the left breast, and passes down the left arm to near the elbow” (158).

Adam Hammer (GB) reported a myocardial infarction confirmed by autopsy. He established that angina pain can be attributed to interruption of coronary blood supply and that heart attacks occur when at least one coronary artery is blocked (1096).

John Hunter (GB), in 1776, assisted the first known artificial insemination. Hunter instructed the husband to use a warm syringe containing his epididymal sperm to impregnate his wife. The operation worked and pregnancy ensued. Fearing criticism this event was reported posthumously (1232, 1272).

Lazzaro Spallanzani (IT), in 1779, reported performing artificial insemination by injecting dog sperm into the vagina of a female dog, which, “sixty-two days after the injection of the sperm, became mother of three little vivacious children, two males and the third female.” He also demonstrated that frog semen is necessary if frog eggs are to be fertilized (2292).

Ilya Ivanovich Ivanov (RU), in 1898, succeeded in developing techniques for obtaining, preserving, and disinfecting semen, in addition to devising a procedure for artificial insemination that could be used for all types of livestock. In 1901 he developed a practical procedure for the artificial insemination of horses. This process allowed one stallion to fertilize up to 500 mares. He founded the world's first center for the artificial insemination of horses (798). By 1936 it was estimated that some 6 million cattle and sheep were artificially inseminated in the Soviet Union.

Ilya Ivanovich Ivanov (RU) pioneered the practice of using artificial insemination for obtaining various interspecific hybrids. He was the first (or one of the first) scientists who obtained and studied a Zeedonk (hybrid of zebra and donkey), Żubroń (a hybrid of wisent (European bison) and domestic cow), a hybrid of an antelope and cow, of mouse and rat, of mouse and guinea pig, guinea pig and rabbit, rabbit and hare and many others. The most controversial of Ivanov's studies was his unsuccessful attempt to create a human-ape hybrid (2066, 2773).

John Hunter (GB) delivered six Croonian lectures on muscular motion from 1776-1782 (they were not printed at the time) in which he described how to assess muscle power in a weak muscle. With joint injury and disease, he states that voluntary movement should not be permitted until inflammation has settled otherwise contracture is promoted. He believed that healing depended on the body's innate power, and that the surgeon's task was to aid this. Hunter believed that bone disease often required mechanical assistance. He was the first to demonstrate the muscularity of arteries and noted that every part of the vascular system is not equally endowed with muscles (1272).

H. Pillore de Rouen (FR), in 1776, surgically created an artificial anus by making an opening into the cecum. The patient, a wine merchant, was suffering from a large tumor located at the colo-rectal junction. The operation was a success but the patient died 28 days later of mercury poisoning. Large amounts of mercury had been used in an attempt to treat the patient without surgery (1899).

Jean Zuléma Amussat (FR), in 1776, described defunctioning colostomy as it was used to manage rectal cancer and create an artificial anus (78, 79).

Jacques Lisfranc (FR) was the first to report a successful rectal excision. The operation was performed in 1826 (1515). 

William Ernest Miles (GB) carried out the first abdominoperineal resection for cancer of the rectum; that is, the cancer was attacked both from the abdomen and from below through the perineum (the area between the anus and the genitals) (1678).

Anal cancer is typically an anal squamous cell carcinoma that arises near the squamocolumnar junction, often linked to human papilloma virus (HPV) infection.

Abbé Jacques-François Dicquemare (FR) described reptilian fossils in Journal de Physique but refrained from speculating about their sources (743).

Johann Friedrich Blumenbach (DE) wrote his dissertation De Generis Humani Varietate Nativa [On the Natural Varieties of Mankind] that made him famous and marked the beginnings of physical anthropology. He classified mankind into four races, based on selected combinations of head shape, skin color and hair form. In the second edition he found it necessary to expand this division into five races, but his famous terms ”Caucasian, Mongolian, Ethiopian, American, and Malayan” were not used until the third edition of 1795 (297).

ca. 1777

Joseph Banks (GB) was the first to show that almost all the Australian mammals are marsupials and more primitive than the placental animals (164).

John Hunter (GB) injected various materials into the veins of living animals. He concluded that many substances introduced directly into the blood produce much more violent effects than when taken into the stomach, and can even cause death. He also discovered that air kills immediately and therefore one must be very careful when injecting substances into the veins, that air does not enter with the substances (1272).


Pierre Joseph Macquer (FR) is his book, A Dictionary of Chemistry, wrote that reduction is an ancient term and originally used to describe the revivification of a metal from its ore and could mean the removal of oxygen or the addition of hydrogen (1562).

Carl Wilhelm Scheele (DE-SE), one of the greatest chemists of all time, was among the first to isolate many chemicals including a number of organic acids, tartaric acid, citric acid, benzoic acid, malic acid, oxalic acid, gallic acid, lactic acid, and uric acid. He isolated benzoic acid and uric acid from urine and actually discovered oxygen before Joseph Gillies Priestley (GB-US). Due to a publishing problem he did not receive credit for the discovery of oxygen. He distinguished two constituents of the atmosphere by allowing air to stand in contact with several substances in closed vessels. Liver of sulfur (a mixture of potassium polysulfides and potassium thiosulfate) absorbed about one-fourth of the volume of air exposed to it, and the residual air would not support combustion. Similar results were secured in experiments in which air stood in contact with linseed oil, or iron filings moistened with water. Scheele called the residual air foul air (nitrogen), and the constituent, which supported combustion he called empyreal or fire air (oxygen). In 1772, he produced oxygen by heating red oxide of mercury and from black oxide of manganese and saltpeter. Combustible objects burned vigorously in this gas (2150, 2153-2156). He isolated tartaric acid from cream of tartar. Anders Jahan Retzius (SE), on behalf of Scheele, reported this to the Academy of Sciences at Stockholm in 1770 (2024).

Johann August Ephraim Goeze (DE) gave an early account of protozoal feeding, possibly including phagocytosis (1012).

Wilhelm Friedrich von Gleichen (DE) recounts experiments in which he observed infusorial creatures ingest carmine particles. The description does not include obvious phagocytosis (2581).

Antoine Laurent Lavoisier (FR) concluded that during respiration, as in the combustion of charcoal, oxygen is removed from the air and is converted into carbon dioxide; he suggested that this process occurs in the lungs, and that oxygen combines with the blood to give the latter its arterial red color. He concluded that the nitrogen fraction remained unchanged (1451, 1453).

William Cullen (GB) coined the word neuroses (590).

Philipp Friedrich Theodore Meckel (DE) proposed that the inner ear is filled with fluid, not air (1653).

Carlo Mondini (IT), in 1777, discovered and described the frilled ovary of the European eel (Anguilla anguilla) and proved that they are fish (1697). 

Simone de Syrski (PL), in 1874, found a sexually mature male European eel (713).

Giovanni Battista Grassi (IT) discovered that the common eel (Anguilla vulgaris) needs salt water for development of its reproductive organs and the deep sea is its spawning place. In autumn it migrates to the sea and the dull yellow of its skin changes to silvery glitter; the eyes enlarge, the pectoral fins become black and change in shape, and the ova ripen (1040).

Ernst Johannes Schmidt (DK) was the zoologist who solved the problem regarding the origin of the European eel (Anguilla anguilla) by proving that its spawning takes place in the deep waters of the Sargasso Sea (2169, 2170). He is commemorated by Heteromesus schmidtii Hansen, 1916.

Joseph Huddart (GB) described red-green color-blindness in a man with two brothers who were similarly affected. Neither the parents nor other siblings were color-blind (1257).

J. Scott (GB) and Michael Lort (GB) reported the peculiar (sex-linked) inheritance of human color-blindness in J. Scott’s family (2199). The condition was fully formulated 40 years later by Christian Friedrich Nasse (DE) in Nasse’s law, which states that hemophilia usually occurs only in males and is passed on by unaffected females (1751).

John Dalton (GB) is often credited (incorrectly) with the first description of color-blindness. He and his brother exhibited color-blindness of the red-green type (also known as protonopia / deuteranopia). This condition is sometimes called daltonism (611). This paper was read to the society in 1794.

Thomas Young (GB) suggested that Dalton’s color blindness was probably due to the absence of the retinal resonator for red (2748).

Smallpox (red plague) became an important issue during the American Revolutionary War. When the troops of the Continental Army (but not the British forces) were ravaged by this disease General George Washington, at Valley Forge, decided to variolate all susceptible troops; an act which probably saved the war effort (850, 851).

ca. 1778

“If I set out to prove something, I am no real scientist—I have to learn to follow where the facts lead me—I have to learn to whip my prejudices.” Lazzaro Spallanzani (547)


Adair Crawford (GB) constructed a calorimeter in which he could measure the heat produced when a given quantity of oxygen was altered by burning charcoal, burning a candle, or respiration of a guinea pig. He concluded that the quantity of heat produced when a given quantity of oxygen was altered by animal respiration was nearly equal to that yielded when the same quantity of oxygen was altered by combustion of wax or charcoal. He concluded that the heat thus derived had its source in the conversion of oxygen into fixed air (carbon dioxide) or into water (577).

John Scott Haldane (GB), W. Hale White (GB), and J.W. Washbourn (GB) produced an improved animal calorimeter (1085). 

Wilhelm Friedrich von Gleichen-Russworm (DE) described the technique of staining phagocytes, studied nutrition in ciliates by observing their uptake of carmine stained water into food vacuoles, and was possibly the first to stain bacteria for observation. He used indigo and carmine (2582).

Samuel Thomas Sömmerring (DE) produced a classification of the twelve cranial nerves, which superseded that of Thomas Willis (1621-1675) and is still taught (2278). The copper pheasant, Syrmaticus soemmeringii, is named in his honor.

Anselme Louis Bernard Bérchillet Jourdain (FR) wrote the first specialist book on oral surgery (1339).


Europe experiences a pandemic of dysentery.


Jan Ingen-Housz; Jan Ingenhousz (NL), in a remarkable book, discusses his discoveries of photosynthesis and plant respiration. He states that only the green part of a plant can restore (produce oxygen) the air, and that it does this only when illuminated by sunlight and that the active part of the sun’s radiation is in the visible light and not in the heat radiation. He describes how plants, like animals, exhibit respiration, that respiration continues day and night, and that all parts of the plant—green as well as non-green, flowers and fruit as well as roots—take part in the process. He determined that plant respiration produces carbon dioxide, a discovery made in animals by Gasparo Ferdinando Felice Fontana (IT) (900, 1306)}. This work laid the foundation for the concept of the balance and economy of the living world.

Jan Ingen-Housz; Jan Ingenhousz (NL), in 1798, declared that carbon dioxide in air is the source of carbon in plants, thus explaining the disappearance of the gas and the production of oxygen in photosynthesis. He stated that during photosynthesis the carbon of carbon dioxide is assimilated for the benefit of the plant (1307).

Johann Hedwig (RO-DE) showed that in mosses the much smaller and less conspicuous antheridia (which he called anthers) are the true male organs and the minute cells emitted from them are the male gametes and fertilize the archegonia (pistilla of Hedwig).

He observed germination of the spores and the growth from them of the filamentous protonema (cotyledons of Hedwig), which is the juvenile form of the moss plant or gametophyte. He observed sperm cells being discharged from the antheridia of the moss Grimmia pulvinata. The 1782 work contains a taxonomic treatment (1144, 1145). Hedwigia de Beauvois is a genus of mosses.

Casimir Christoph Schmidel; Casimir Christoph Schmiedel (DE) had realized earlier that antheridia are the male organs in the liverwort Fossombromia, thus Schmidel and Hedwig demonstrated the true functions of the antheridia and spores in bryophytes (2168).

Gasparo Ferdinando Felice Fontana (IT) distinguished the axon with myelin sheath and endoneural sheath. He clearly noted the fluid nature of the axoplasm. He also recognized the fluidity of the axoplasm through accurate micromanipulation. He demonstrated in 1778-1779 that the restoration of the interrupted nerve trunk might be traced to a real and actual regeneration of primitive nerve cylinders, or rather, of nerve fibers (365, 899, 1213, 2753).

Christian Gottfried Ehrenberg (DE) discovered nerve ganglion cells in vertebrates and invertebrates. In the 1836 reference he proved the existence of the central nerve fiber (803, 804).

Gabriel Gustav Valentin (DE-CH) identified elements common to all parts of the nervous system (globular units in the cortex as well as isolated, continuous primitive fibers). In cells from the cerebellar cortex he identified parenchyma (a term he coined), appendages, nucleus and nucleolus (karyosome) (2467). Note: At this time it was still not appreciated that cell bodies and nerve fibers were connected.

Robert Remak (PL-DE) recognized that the sympathetic fibers are grey because they are nonmyelinated (Remak’s fibers), and that the medullary nerve fibers are not hollow, as had been supposed, but rather surround a translucent substance – a central core, which Johannes Evangelista Purkinje (CZ) called the axis cylinder. Remak’s work indicated that the axon is not continuous with the nerve cell body but that it arises from it (2013-2015).

Johann Peter Frank (DE) wrote, System Einer Vollstandigen Medicinischen Polizey, the first comprehensive treatise on public health (929). He has been called the father of public health.

Antonio Scarpa (IT) described Scarpa's ganglion of the vestibular system. It is a ganglion in the internal auditory canal within the vestibular portion of the eighth nerve. He discovered the membrane labyrinth and its endolymph (Scarpa’s fluid), presented the first illustrations of the human olfactory nerves, olfactory bulbs, and the olfactory tracts, as well as the sphenopalatine ganglion and of the interior nasal nerves. He discovered the human nasopalatine nerve and made comparative anatomical illustrations of the olfactory apparatus in the dogfish, reptiles, birds, and mammals.

He was the first to distinguish the spinal from the sympathetic ganglia and to demonstrate that the spinal ganglia are formed only on the dorsal roots of the spinal nerves. He observed that the ganglia of the thoracic-lumbar sympathetic nerves connected to the ventral roots of the spinal nerves only (2132, 2135).

David Bylon; David Bijlon (NL) described a 1779 outbreak of dengue fever while in Batavia (Jakarta), Dutch East Indies. He called it knokkel-koorts (knuckle or joint-fever). Its name comes from denga, a Swahili word meaning “cramp-like attack” (435, 1871). Some suggest that this was an outbreak of chikungunya.

Benjamin Rush (US) described a 1780 outbreak of what was undoubtedly dengue fever in Philadelphia, PA (2091). 


Epidemic catarrhal fever occurred in London.

A pandemic of dysentery (the "bloody flux") takes place.


Carl Wilhelm Scheele (DE-SE) discovered glycerol. It was obtained by heating several oils and fats with lead oxide. He called it glycerine from the Greek glykeros meaning sweet (2150, 2153, 2155, 2156).

Carl Wilhelm Scheele (DE-SE), in 1780, isolated and identified the acid of sour milk (later named lactic acid) (2154).

Jöns Jakob Berzelius (SE) found lactic acid in fluid extracted from meat in 1808 (256, 258).

Johann Joseph Scherer (DE) first demonstrated the occurrence of lactic acid in human blood under pathological conditions after death (2162, 2163). 

Johann Justus Liebig (DE) proved that lactic acid was always present in muscular tissue of dead organisms (1502).

Emil Heinrich du Bois-Reymond (CH-DE) published several articles on the influence of lactic acid on muscle contraction (769-773).

Trasaburo Araki (JP) and Hermann Zillessen (DE) found that if they interrupted oxygen supply to muscles in mammals and birds, lactic acid was formed and increased (97-100, 2760). 

Armand Séguin (FR), Antoine Laurent Lavoisier (FR), and Pierre Simon de Laplace (FR) compared the combustion of charcoal with respiration of a guinea pig. They measured the amount of heat that both processes produced and were able to show that life was very like combustion in that respect. They concluded, … “Respiration is therefore a combustion, very slow it is true, but otherwise perfectly similar to that of charcoal; it occurs in the interior of the lungs, without producing perceptible light, because the liberated matter of fire is immediately absorbed by the humidity of these organs” (1452, 1457, 2204). See, Adair Crawford, 1778.

John Hunter (GB) noted that a mother with smallpox (red plague) very likely passed the infection to her child in utero (1267, 1272).

Meinard Simon du Pui (NL) proposed that there might be two distinct minds in man, each associated with a hemisphere. “Man’s nervous system is just as bipartite as the rest of his body, with the result that one-half of it may become affected while the other half continues to carry out its proper functions” (778).

Henry Holland (GB), in 1840, wrote an essay, which emphasized the ability of the two hemispheres to function noncompetitively. He drew attention to the corpus callosum as a region for transmission between the two sides of the brain (1220).

Jirí Procháska; Georg Procháska (CZ) introduced the concept that the central nervous system contains a region, he called it sensorium commune, which reflects (hence reflex) sensory input received by the brain to the motor nerves (1958, 1959, 2625).

Charles Darwin (GB) (uncle of Charles Robert Darwin of evolution fame) did an early study on the action of decoction (boiled down) of foxglove on the heart.

He suggested that the absorbent vessels (lymphatics), which carry foodstuffs to the blood stream, also carry fluids when these are accumulated in excessive amounts in tissues and return them to the circulating blood (618).

John Hunter (GB) read a paper before the Royal Society of London on the structure of the human placenta in which he explained, for the first time, certain aspects of utero-placental circulation. The paper was first printed in 1786 (1268, 1272).


Europe experiences a severe influenza pandemic, which also reaches North America and South America (593).


Gasparo Ferdinando Felice Fontana (IT) described the nucleolus after finding it in the slime from an eel's skin (899, 1395). Some have questioned this discovery.

Rudolph Wagner (DE) discovered the nucleolus (keimfleck or macula germinativa) in oocyte germinal vesicles (2618, 2619).

Gabriel Gustav Valentin (DE-CH) discovered the nucleolus then subsequently named it the nucleolus or kernkörperchen. “In every cell, without exception there exists a somewhat darker-appearing and compact nucleus of a round or nearly round shape. Mostly it is located in the centre of the specific cell, composed of a finely granular material and containing in its interior an exactly spheroidal body which in this way forms a kind of secondary nucleus within the first one” (2467-2469).

Peter Simon Pallas (DE) provided the first descriptions of a number of new species of cestodes. Among them Caryophyllaeus laticeps, Cyathocephalus truncata, Triaenophorus nodulosus, Fimbriaria fasciolaris (1828).

Felix Vicq-d’Azyr (FR) fixed brain tissue in alcohol to improve its dissection. He systematized brain nomenclature and was one of the first to section the brain horizontally and is credited with rediscovering the white line in the calcerine cortex. He created a classic anatomic folio of the brain, identified for the first time many of the cerebral convolutions (noting that they are dissimilar in the two hemispheres), as he did the deep gray nuclei of the cerebrum and basal ganglia. The mamillo thalamic trait was also described by him and bears his name (2554, 2556).

John Warren (US), in 1781, amputated at the shoulder joint (2643).

William C. Bowen (US), in 1813, amputated, at the shoulder joint, the right arm of a patient with a disabling and rapidly progressing enlargement of his right arm. Convinced that the disease was a fungus haematodes (an obsolete term denoting a soft, fungating, easily bleeding malignant tumor). The patient went back to his farm work in one month, but succumbed to his disease fourteen months after the operation (339).


Carl Wilhelm Scheele (DE-SE) heated a chemical called, Prussian Blue or Berlin Blue, with diluted sulfuric acid and obtained a flammable gas that when dissolved in water created an acidic solution. Scheele called his new acid "Berlin Blue Acid" or just blue acid (2152). Today it is called hydrogen cyanide. The main target of this poison is cytochrome C oxidase, the terminal oxidase of the respiratory chain and involves interaction with the ferric ion of cytochrome a3 (1037).

Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac (FR), in 1811, determined that the molecule of hydrogen cyanide contains one atom each of hydrogen, carbon, and nitrogen (977). 

Jean Senebier (CH) established the necessity of carbon dioxide for plant growth (photosynthesis) and proved that the oxygen evolved by green plants is proportional to the amount of carbon dioxide present, up to the point where an excess of carbon dioxide begins to injure the plants (2213-2215).

Otto Friderich Müller; Otto Friderich Mueller (DK) discovered the zygospores of Spirogyra. He did not know their function (1736).

Johann Hedwig (RO-DE) speculated that the zygospores of Spirogyra were formed as the result of a sexual act (1148).

Charles De Geer (SE) described what was undoubtedly an Empusa muscae (phycomycete) infection of the housefly (2404).

Johann Hedwig (RO-DE) recognized sexual organs of mosses. The father of bryology: the present delimitation of the bryophata was established by him in 1782 (1145, 1146). 

Francesco Buzzi (IT) briefly described the portion of the eye later called the macula lutea (434).

Samuel Thomas Sömmerring (DE) discovered the limbus luteus (macula lutea) in the human eye. This is an oval lemon yellow area of the sensory retina. He observed a central depression in the macula, which he called the foramen centrale (fovea centralis) (2281, 2282, 2284, 2285). These observations were made in 1791.

Francesco Gennari (IT) was the first to demonstrate the laminar structure of the cerebral cortex when he published work on the lineola albidior. These are fibrous lines in the cortex of the brain (980). Gennari actually made this observation in 1776.

Felix Vicq d'Azyr (FR) independently made the same discovery a few years later (2556).

Heinrich Obersteiner (AT) would, in 1888, name this white line the stripe of Gennari (1781).

Marcus Elieser Bloch (DE) published a 12-volume, beautifully illustrated comprehensive work on fishes. The first three volumes describe fishes in Germany and were entitled Oeconomische Naturgeschichte der Fische Deutschlands, the remaining volumes dealt with fishes from other parts of the world and were entitled Naturgeschichte der ausländischen Fische (295). Acanthurus blochii is a fish named in his honor. 

Epidemic influenza is present in England and Scotland.

Epidemic typhus is reported at Carlisle in England (Heysham).


Antoine Laurent Lavoisier (FR) and James Watt (GB) were among the first to determine that water is not an element but rather a compound (1454, 2647).

Johann Gottlieb Walter (DE) presented several excellent copperplate tables of the thoracic and abdominal nerves, which have become famous for accuracy and careful preparation (2635). 

To 1875 Walter's tables were the best presentation of the sympathetic, especially the best and most accurate in their presentation of the sympathetic nerves supplying the female tractus genitalis. ref

Walter was the first who presented a ganglion on the lateral borders of the cervix uteri. Hence these nerve masses or nodes should be known by the eponym "Walter's cervico-uterine ganglion." ref

Alexander Monro secundus (GB) discovered the sensory ganglia on the posterior roots of the spinal nerves and described the connection between the lateral and third ventricles of the brain—since called the foramina of Monro. He hypothesized that the quantity of the blood circulating within the cranium must at all times be constant (1701, 1702).

George Kellie (GB) proved Monro correct. This would become known as the Monro-Kellie doctrine (1357).

G. Burrows (GB) questioned the accuracy of the hypothesis of fixed blood volume and introduced into the concept a third element—the cerebrospinal fluid, however, he was in general accord with the major thesis that the intracranial volume is at all times fairly constant, accepting the view that the bony containers of the central nervous system are rigid, thus preventing alteration in the total volume of the tissues and fluids within them (430).

Axel Key (SE) and Gustaf Retzius (SE) emphasized that the cerebrospinal fluid of the spinal subarachnoid space communicated freely with that of the cerebral ventricles and cranial subarachnoid space (1370).

Leonard Erskine Hill (GB) concluded that “the volume of the blood in the brain is in all physiological conditions but slightly variable” (1201).

Lewis Hill Weed (US) notes, “Thus there exist local reciprocal volume-adjustments within the cranio-vertebral system on change in posture—not reciprocal pressure-adjustments. This physiological arrangement may possibly be the saving mechanism which allowed the four-footed horizontal mammal to become a vertical, erect organism, for in spite of an apparent dislocation of a long column of cerebrospinal fluid, with its accompanying pressure-changes about the nervous system, the intracranial venous system retains an effective pressure capable of returning blood to the systemic circulation. But was not there a great physiological hazard when the first vertebrate, with a horizontal nervous system, developed mobility of neck and head, so that the head could be raised above the rest of the nervous system, thus occasioning a dislocation of cerebrospinal fluid from the head-end of the organism and altering so markedly the pressure and volume-relationships about the neural axis? Fortunately nature saw to it that a rigid skull and vertebral column were provided: even to-day we should be thankful that we stand erect under the protection and aegis of a Monro-Kellie doctrine” (2648). 

Jean-Baptiste de Sénac (FR) correlated gross irregularities (palpitation) with mitral valve disease (711).

Claude Pouteau (FR) noted that there is a relationship between tuberculosis and curvature of the spine (1937).


René Just Haüy (FR) hypothesized that an identity or difference in crystalline form implied an identity or difference in chemical composition. This was the beginning of the science of crystallography (1129).

Antonio Scarpa (IT) was a pioneer in the study of hermaphroditism (2133).

John Hunter (GB) in his article "Observations on the inflammation of the internal venous layer” drew attention to thrombosis detected after venipunctures, complex fractures, and surgeries. Thereafter, Hunter observed venous inflammation and regarded it as the cause for concomitant venous thrombosis. Later on he found thrombosis without suppuration of vessel walls, and called it spontaneous venous wall inflammation (1269, 1272). This paper was written in 1784.

Jirí Procháska; Georg Procháska (CZ) described the thalamus of the brain as a relay station of sensory and motor impulses that result in reflexion. This provided the first link between afferent and efferent limbs in the reflex arc. It was John Augustus Unzer (DE) who coined the term reflex to describe the sensory-motor reaction (2462). It was Galen who coined the term thalamus.

Felix Vicq-d'Azyr (FR) discovered the substantia nigra in 1784 (2555).

Samuel Thomas von Sömmerring (DE) alluded to this structure in 1791. ref Note: The substantia nigra (black substance) is a brain structure located in the mesencephalon (midbrain) that plays an important role in reward, addiction, and movement.

Michael Underwood (GB), in 1784, was the first to describe what later became known as infantile paralysis (2459, 2460). 

Jakob Heine (DE) was the first to recognize poliomyelitis as a clinical disease entity. He separated the disease from other forms of paralysis, recognized the spinal cord localization of the pathology, and termed it infantile spinal paralysis (1152).

Karl Oskar Medin (SE) was the first to note the epidemic character of polio when he observed an outbreak of 44 cases in Stockholm in 1887. The disease was sometimes called Heine-Medin's disease before it became generally known as poliomyelitis (1655).

Guillaume Benjamin Amand Duchenne de Boulogne (FR), in 1855, localized the lesion in polio to the anterior horn cells (785, 786).

Ivar Wickman (DE) was the first to produce evidence confirming the infectious nature of poliomyleitis (2689).

Karl Landsteiner (AT-US) and Erwin Popper (DE) demonstrated that a filterable agent (virus) from a human case of poliomyelitis would cause paralysis if injected intraperitoneally into monkeys (1438, 1439). This was considered proof that poliovirus is the etiological agent of poliomyelitis.

Constantin Levaditi (RO-FR) and Karl Landsteiner (AT-US) were the first to isolate the poliomyelitis virus and were among the first to use monkeys in polio research (1494).

James D. Trask (US), Alfred J. Vignec (US), and John R. Paul (US) isolated poliovirus from human feces (2437, 2438).

John Franklin Enders (US), Thomas Huckle Weller (US), and Frederick Chapman Robbins (US) were the first to grow poliovirus in high titer in cell culture. They used human embryonic extraneural tissue (812, 814, 2666).

Jordi Casals (ES-US), Peter K. Olitsky (US), and Ralph O. Anslow (US) adapted type 2-poliomyelitis virus to suckling mice and showed that the brains of these animals contained antigen in sufficient concentration to fix complement with poliomyelitis antisera (458).

Joseph Louis Melnick (US) and Nada Ledinko (US) reported immunity following oral administration of poliomyelitis virus to monkeys (1660).

Hilary Koprowski (PL-US), George A. Jervis (US), and Thomas W. Norton (US) created the world's first polio vaccine, based on oral administration of attenuated poliovirus. In researching a potential polio vaccine, they had focused on live viruses that were attenuated (rendered non-virulent) rather than on killed viruses. They developed the polio vaccine by attenuating the virus in brain cells of the cotton rat (Sigmodon hispidus), a New World species susceptible to polio. They then conducted the first human trial of their attenuated oral poliovirus vaccine, first treating themselves, then treating intellectually disabled children and children with epilepsy at a New York State facility (1402).

Jonas Edward Salk (US) prepared a vaccine of chemically inactivated poliovirus (2110-2113). Why this vaccine was chosen for widespread use in lieu of either the Koprowski or Sabin vaccines is interesting. 

Albert Bruce Sabin (PL-US) developed a polio vaccine containing live attenuated viruses from the three known strains of poliovirus. He tried the vaccine on himself first then on prison volunteers. The vaccine did not displace the Salk vaccine until 1960 when its use abroad on more than 100 million people made it apparent that it was superior (2108, 2109).


“Knowledge is proud that he has learn'd so much;

Wisdom is humble that he knows no more.

Books are not seldom talismans and spells.” William Cowper (573)

James Hutton (GB) communicated to the Royal Society of Edinburgh his Theory of the Earth, which laid down the general principles of geology, and in so doing, stated that the earth is very old. He maintained that there were three main geological processes at work in the world: (1) sediments that are deposited, mainly in the oceans, become the layers of stratified sedimentary rocks, or strata, (2) volcanic action uplifts strata to form mountains, and (3) once strata have been elevated they are subject to erosion by wind, rain, and rivers. “There seemed to be no sign of a beginning, and no prospect of an end,” he wrote (1292-1295). The idea that the earth is very old was essential to Darwin’s concept of evolution. Note: Hutton's writing was so difficult to understand that the greatness of his insights was not appreciated until John Playfair (GB) wrote a book explaining them (1912). See, Shen Kuo, 1088.

Count Claude-Louis Berthollet (FR) noted that when animal materials are exposed to nitric acid a considerable amount of azote (nitrogen) is released. He concluded that nitrogen is common to organisms and its presence explains why ammonia is formed during the putrefaction of plant or animal material. Berthollet discovered methane and ethylene (253).

Antoine Laurent Lavoisier (FR) found a discrepancy between the amounts of oxygen removed from the air and the carbon dioxide exhaled during respiration. He concluded that some of the oxygen combines with the blood or a portion of hydrogen to form water (1457).

Peter Christian Abildgaard (DE) first described Borna disease, in Southeastern Germany, as a fatal neurologic affliction of horses (22).

A. Siedamgrotzky (DE) and M. Schelegel (DE) described the disease in 1896 when horses were the only known victims (2252).

Wilhelm Zwick (DE), O. Seifried (DE), and J. Witte (DE) injected a certifiably bacterium-free filtrate from horses with Borna disease into the brains of rabbits--and thereby gave them Borna disease. They found they could infect rats, guinea pigs, and rhesus monkeys too. Apparently the virus was highly flexible, though in nature it was still known only as a scourge of German and Swiss horses and sheep (2774, 2775).

Liv Bode (DE), Sabine Riegel (DE), Hanns Ludwig (DE), Jay D. Amsterdam (DE), Werner Lange (DE), Hilary Koprowski (US), Ron Ferszt (DE), Gerald Czech (DE), Ralf Durrwald (DE), and Fedik A. Rantam (DE) presented evidence to support the hypothesis that Bornavirus infection might contribute somehow to the syndrome of major depressive illness by altering neuronal cells in the limbic system of many animals including man (304-306).


Carl Wilhelm Scheele (DE-SE) showed sulfur to be a constituent of proteins (2153). 

Otho Fridericus Müller; Otto Friderich Müller; Otto Friderich Mueller (DK) studied the bacteria and succeeded in discovering many of the details of their structure. He left drawings so accurate that the bacteria he showed can be identified today as belonging to one or another of the chief divisions. He was the first person to seriously attempt to divide them into categories and classify them after the fashion of Linnaeus. He introduced the terms bacillum and spirillum (1738).

William Cumberland Cruikshank (GB) described the lymphatic vessels in man and discussed their function (588). 

John Hunter (GB) wrote Observations on Certain Parts of the Animal Oeconomy, which contains his studies on the descent of the testis into the scrotum, the structure of the placenta, the mechanism of digestion, the air sac in birds, the secondary sexual characteristics of the freemartin and pheasant, and his original description of the olfactory nerves (1268).

Armand Marie Jacques de Chastenet Puysegur (FR), a disciple of Franz Anton Mesmer (AT), realized that Mesmer’s method of treating the sick tapped into the power of suggestion and the intense desire by some to believe in a cure. He realized that this closely paralleled what was known as artificial somnambulism (hypnosis) and developed a methodology for producing it. Mesmerism, animal magnetism, and hypnotism became virtually synonymous (1969).

Felix Vicq d'Azyr (FR) discovered the locus caeruleus (a pigmented eminence in the superior angle of the floor of the fourth ventricle (2556).

James Sims describes a scarlet fever epidemic in London.


Antoine Laurent Lavoisier (FR), Claude Louis Berthollet (FR), Louis Bernars Guyton de Morveau (FR), and Antoine Francois Fourcroy (FR) authored Methode de Nomenclature Chimique in which they established the principles whereby every substance is assigned a definite name based on the elements of which it is composed (699).

Adamo Fabbroni (IT) wrote a book on fermentation and pointed out that air is not necessary for fermentation to proceed. He did not regard alcohol as a constituent of the grape nor a product of the fermentation, but the product of reciprocal action of the two reagents that cause fermentation (831).

Johann Hedwig (RO-DE) established with certainty the existence of fungal asci (he called them theca) and ascospores. He described and illustrated them in 20 members of the genus Octosporus (1147).

Christian Godfried Daniel Nees von Esenbeck (DE) coined the terms ascus in 1817 and spore somewhat later (2578).

George Adams (the younger) (GB) and others devised microtomes capable of cutting tissue sections, as thin as 1/2000 of an inch thick (29). 

Antonio Scarpa (IT) studied the connection between the vagus nerve and its accessory showing that the accessory fibers arise from the medulla oblongata (2134).


Europe experienced an influenza pandemic. 


Charles Blagden (GB) discovered that the depression of the freezing point of water by inorganic salts is in proportion to the amount dissolved (287, 288).

Olof Swartz (SE) wrote Nova Genera et Species Plantarum and Flora Indiae Occidentalis I-III in which he included nearly 900 species of plants new to science at the time (2366, 2367).

Thomas Cawley (GB) published the first evidence of a link between diabetes and the pancreas. He observed the development of diabetes in people who had sustained injury to the pancreas (473).


"When by exercise and movement one increases the consumption of oxygen gas in the lungs the circulation accelerates, of which one can easily convince oneself by the pulse rate, and, in general, when a person is breathing without hindrance, the quantity of oxygen consumed is proportional to the increase in the number of pulsations multiplied by the number of inspirations." Antoine Laurent Lavoisier (1455)

Despite the inaccuracy of this original statement it links the uptake of oxygen during exercise to cardiac and pulmonary function. It is this statement that is the basis of modern cardiopulmonary exercise testing, the heart, the lungs and the circulation becoming inexorably linked in function.

Antoine Laurent Lavoisier (FR) named the inflammable gas discovered by Henry Cavendish (GB) hydrogen, because it forms water when it is burned in the presence of oxygen (1457).

Antoine Laurent Lavoisier (FR) in speaking of chemical reactions noted “that there is the same quantity of matter before and after the operation.” He established that organic compounds consist of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. He named oxygen, and led the way to the eventual overthrow of the theory of phlogiston. He stated that vinous fermentation separates the elements of sugar into two portions. One part he believed to be oxygenated at the expense of the other so as to form carbon dioxide, while the other part, being deoxygenated in favor of the former, is converted into the combustible substance alcohol. If it were possible to reunite alcohol and carbon dioxide we ought, in Lavoisier’s opinion, to be able to reconstruct sugar (1455, 1456).

Olof Rudbeck the elder (SE) was honored by having a genus of plants named for him, Rudbeckia (2263).

Antoine-Laurent de Jussieu (FR) made the first real progress toward grouping the genera of angiosperms into natural families. This is his most famous and important work, in which he sets forth his classification system for the phanerogams, which overthrew that of Linnaeus (676). He was the founder of the Musée d'Histoire Naturelle de Paris that became the largest herbarium in the world. Jussieu was the first to recognize the nature of liverworts and separate them from mosses.

Gilbert White (GB) was the first to use bird song to distinguish birds which otherwise look very much alike. He described the field, house, and mole crickets, the parasitic behavior of the cuckoo, migration of swallows, and Britain’s harvest mouse. He discovered the nocturnal bat (Nyctalus noctula) and explained that the blindworm (Anguis fragilis) is not a snake because it produces viviparous young (it is a legless lizard). Many of White’s thorough and beautiful descriptions of natural phenomena have never been improved upon (2681).

Richard Owen (GB) reported that John Hunter (GB), in 1785, was performing experiments to determine the blood-supply for the growing antler of a deer when he discovered collateral circulation of the blood, one of the most important rediscoveries in surgery (1818). This led directly to his invention of the Hunterian operation for popliteal aneurism. On December 12, 1785, he ligated the superficial femoral artery high in the thigh in the area now known as Hunter's canal to treat a popliteal aneurysm. The patient did well; the aneurysm shrunk to a hard knot, and the limb survived. His report of this operation was made for him by his brother-in-law Everard Home (GB) (1229).

The principle of collateral circulation had been known at least from the time of Celsus in the first century.

Robert Darby (GB) is credited with the earliest medical use of cod-liver oil; he used it in the treatment of rheumatism (1078).

A widespread epidemic of influenza hit New England, New York and Nova Scotia in the fall of 1789. Most deaths appear to have been from secondary pneumonia (1396).

ca. 1790

Henry Cavendish (GB) discovered that water is composed of hydrogen and oxygen (471).

Jan Ingen-Housz; Jan Ingenhousz (NL) discovered Brownian motion before Robert Brown did. While studying algae under a coverslip he noted their random motion (2487). See, Robert Brown, 1828.


Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (DE) wrote Versuch die Metamorphose der Pflanzen zu Erklären [An Attempt to Explain the Metamorphosis of Plants] in which he coined the word morphology and advanced the theory that all plant structures are modifications of one fundamental organ, the leaf (2583).

Anders Adolf Retzius (SE) is the person most responsible for placing the hagfishes in their proper taxonomic location among the primitive fishes (2021-2023). 

James Lucas (GB) described the first case of post-measles encephalomyelitis (1543).

Karl Friedrich Otto Westphal (DE) later named this acute disseminated encephalitis (2676).

Thomas Barlow (GB) and F.G. Penrose (GB) described the pathologic changes attendant to early-disseminated myelitis or acute disseminated encephalitis (ADEM) (175).

E. Weston Hurst (AU) improved the pathological description of ADEM and differentiated it from acute hemorrhagic leukoencephalitis  (1286).

Note: Acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM) is a brief but intense attack of inflammation (swelling) in the brain and spinal cord and occasionally the optic nerves that damages the brain’s myelin (the white coating of nerve fibers). Other names used to refer to ADEM include post-infectious encephalomyelitis and immune-mediated encephalomyelitis.

John Hunter (GB), in 1790, introduced artificial feeding by the use of a flexible tube inserted to the stomach (1270).

Johann Peter Frank (DE), professor at the University of Pavia (modern Italy), in the graduation address stressed that poverty is the chief cause of both disease and crime (930). This talk is a landmark in the history of public health.

ca. 1791

Francois Beeldsnijder (NL) built the first achromatic lens for a compound microscope. He used a flint-glass negative lens sandwiched between two crown-glass positive lenses to produce an objective of 21mm focal length capable of resolving 0.01mm without color halos (2480). Spherical aberration remained a serious problem. See, Lister, 1830.


Jean Senebier (CH) stated that the presence of air, specifically oxygen, accelerated the development of rancidity in fats (2216).

Joseph Louis Comte Lagrange (IT-FR) disagreed with Lavoisier’s deduction that during animal respiration all of the heat of combustion is released in the lungs. Lagrange stated that the heat is probably released in all parts of the body where the blood circulates.

He concluded …”that the blood in passing through the lungs dissolved the oxygen of the respiratory air, and that this dissolved oxygen was carried by the blood in the arteries and thence to the veins; that during the flow of the blood, the oxygen gradually left its dissolved state to combine partially with the carbon and hydrogen of the blood and form water and the carbonic acid which is released from the blood as soon as the venous blood leaves the heart to enter the lungs” (1127).

Lazzaro Spallanzani (IT) had reached a similar conclusion (2298).

George Fordyce (GB) was the first to publish the results of animal experiments in which a control was used. He studied chickens and concluded that they required stones in their gizzard for grinding seeds. He also studied canaries and concluded that they required a calcareous substance in their diet at the time of egg laying otherwise the hen was frequently killed by the eggs not passing forward properly (904).

Luigi Galvani; Luigi Aloisius Galvani (IT) and Alessandro Volta (IT) argued over the twitching of frogs' legs. This led to an interest in investigating the electrical phenomena of animals. Luigi Galvani (IT) is credited with discovering animal electricity and its effect on muscular motion. Quoting Galvani, “…I think it is sufficiently established that there is electricity in animals, which … we may be permitted to call by the general name of animal electricity” (967-969). See, Caldani, 1757.

Friedrich Wilhelm Heinrich Alexander von Humboldt (DE) confirmed Galvani’s experiments on animal electricity (2597).

Jean-Guillaume Bruguière (FR) revived the name Echinodermata and included it along with Infusoria, Intestina, Mollusca, Testacea, and Zoophyta as an order of Vermes (415).

Pieter Camper; Petrus Camper (NL) invented craniometry and an elastic truss for hernia (444, 446). Camper made comparative studies of the ear in fishes, reptiles, and mammals, discovered the significance of the air sacs in the bones of birds, and compared the skeletal and muscular systems of the orangutan and man (445, 1699).

Georg Joseph Beer (AT) wrote the first monograph ever published dealing with ocular signs of systemic disease. It includes: lacrimal fistulas, trichiasis, adhesions of the lids, lid ulcers, epiphora, and ocular inflammations. He illustrates how smallpox, measles, venereal afflictions, gout, rheumatic diseases, scrofula, and dietary deficiencies affect the eyes (215).

The following year he described the symptoms of glaucoma and noted the luminosity of the fundus in aniridia; presented for the first time the general principles of treating post-traumatic inflammations, including penetrating and perforating injuries as well as injuries to the orbit, and described the first use of the loupe for the examination of the living eye (216).

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (AT) very likely died of epidemic acute post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis (870, 1561).

Samuel Thomas Sömmerring (DE) was one of the first people to describe achrondoplasia (2279).


Yellow fever ravaged cities all along the east coast of the United States, including Charleston, Philadelphia, New Haven, New York, and Baltimore. The outbreak in Philadelphia in the summer of 1793 was the most severe, and most memorable. The disease was probably introduced from ships carrying French refugees who were fleeing turmoil in Santo Domingo, and then spread by mosquitoes that bred in stagnant water that in years with more rain had been waterways and canals. Ten percent of the population in that city died, about 5,000 people altogether. The new city of Washington DC was under construction at the time, and Philadelphia was the interim capital. Most of the government officials fled the city, including George Washington and the members of his cabinet. Various treatments were tried, none of them very effective, and controversy raged over the best way to prevent and treat the disease. Cold weather finally brought an end to the outbreak, in late October (1396).

During a three-month period 10,000 people died of yellow fever in Philadelphia, PA (455).


William Gullen (GB) discussed peritonitis, meaning, not only the inflammations affecting the peritoneum lining the cavity of the abdomen, but also those affecting the extensions of this membrane in the omentum and mesentery (1071).

Vrachevnie Viedomosti, the first Russian medical periodical was founded.


Antoine Laurent Lavoisier (FR) and Armand Séguin (FR), in a majestic example of deductive reasoning, wrote, “In general, respiration is nothing but a slow combustion of carbon and hydrogen, which is entirely similar to that which occurs in a lighted lamp or candle, and that, from this point of view, animals that respire are true combustible bodies that burn and consume themselves.

In respiration, as in combustion, it is the atmospheric air which furnishes oxygen and caloric; but since in respiration it is the substance itself of the animal, it is the blood, which furnishes the combustible matter, if animals did not regularly replace by means of food elements that which they loose by respiration, the lamp would soon lack oil, and the animal would perish, as a lamp is extinguished when it lacks nourishment.

The proofs of this identity of effects in respiration and combustion are immediately deducible from experiment. Indeed, upon leaving the lung, the air that has been used for respiration no longer contains the same amount of oxygen; it contains not only carbonic acid gas but also much more water than it contained before it had been inspired. Now since the vital air can only convert itself into carbonic acid by the addition of carbon; since it can only convert itself into water by the addition of hydrogen; since this double combustion cannot occur without the loss, by the vital air, of a portion of its specific caloric, it follows that the effect of respiration is to extract from the blood a portion of carbon and hydrogen, and to deposit there a portion of its specific caloric which, during circulation, distributes itself with the blood in all parts of the animal economy, and maintains that nearly constant temperature observed in all animals that breathe.

One may say that this analogy between combustion and respiration has not escaped the notice of the poets, or rather the philosophers of antiquity, and which they had expounded and interpreted. This fire stolen from heaven, this torch of Prometheus, does not only represent an ingenious and poetic idea, it is a faithful picture of the operations of nature, at least for animals that breathe; one may therefore say, with the ancients, that the torch of life lights itself at the moment the infant breathes for the first time, and it does not extinguish itself except at death.

In considering such happy agreement, one might sometimes be tempted to believe that the ancients had indeed penetrated further than we think into the sanctuary of knowledge, and that the myth is actually nothing but the allegory, in which they hid the great truths of medicine and physics.

We conclude this memoir with a consoling reflection. To be rewarded by mankind and to pay one’s tribute to the nation, it is not essential to be called to those public and brilliant offices that contribute to the organization and regeneration of empires. The physicist may also, in the silence of his laboratory and his study, perform patriotic functions; he can hope, through his labors, to diminish the mass of ills that afflict humanity, to increase its happiness and welfare; and if he has only contributed, through the new avenues he has opened, to prolong the average life-span of human beings by a few years, even by a few days, he could also aspire to the glorious title of benefactor of humanity” (1457, 2204). The final paragraph of this memoir is particularly poignant in light of the fact that on the 8th of May 1794, in one of the great excesses of the French Revolution, Lavoisier was guillotined.

Antoine Francois Fourcroy (FR) discovered that brain tissue contains both proteins and lipids (911).

Thomas Young (GB) and Richard Brocklesby (GB) were the first to discover the manner in which the lens of the eye changes shape (accommodation) in focusing on objects at different distances. They described the reason for astigmatism —fuzzy vision— as irregularities of the curvature of the cornea of the eye. They concluded that there are three primary colors out of which all others can be created and these must correspond to three distinct receptors in the eye. They were among the first people to calculate the wavelength of visible light. They contributed to the understanding of surface tension and elastic substances. Some consider this the origin of the wave theory of light (2747, 2749).

Hermann Ludwig Ferdinand von Helmholtz (DE) supported Young’s work and according to the Young-Helmholtz (trichromatic) theory, vision depends on the three different sets of retinal fibers responsible for perception of red, green, and violet. The loss of either red, green, or violet as color perceptive elements in the retina causes an inability to perceive a primary color or any color of which it forms a part (2593, 2594).

Selig Hecht (PL-US) developed a trichromatic theory for color vision in which there were three types of cones with very close spectral sensitivities (1140).

Matthew Baillie (GB) established morbid anatomy as an independent branch of the medical sciences. He suggested a relationship between rheumatic fever and valvular heart disease, gave the first description of chronic obstructive pulmonary emphysema, the first clear description of the morbid anatomy and symptoms of gastric ulcer, and one of the earliest and best descriptions of pulmonary lesions of tuberculosis (156-158). This book is the first English contribution to correlate clinical observations with pathology. See, Marcello Donati, 1586

John Hunter (GB) studied loose bodies in joints, pseudoarthroses and fracture healing, where he described the transformation from fracture hematoma to fibrocartilaginous callus to the deposition of new bone, trabeculation, reestablishment of the medullary canal and the resorption of excess bony tissue (1230, 1272).

ca. 1794

Tobias E. Lovits; Tovy Yegorovich Lowitz (DE-RU) was a master of the techniques for forming crystals having himself discovered super cooling, super saturation and others. He isolated strontium independently of A. Crawford; isolated acetic acid, anhydride alcohol, and pure sulfur ether; discovered dichloracetic and trichloracetic acid; was the first to isolate glucose from honey; and discovered activated charcoal and its adsorptive properties (1533).


“This operation of the body, termed inflammation, requires our greatest attention, for it is one of the most common and most extensive in its causes, and it becomes itself the cause of many local effects, both salutary and diseased.”  John Hunter (1271)

Elizabeth Fulhame (GB) published ideas that are recognizable today as the first suggestions of catalysis (946).

Erasmus Darwin (GB), the grandfather of Charles Robert Darwin, wrote Zoönomia; or, The Laws of Organic Life in which he proposed the gradual evolution of animals and plants. Zoönomia has been called the first consistent all-embracing hypothesis of evolution (623).

Lazzaro Spallanzani (IT), in 1793, caught several wild bats, blinded them, marked, and released the bats to recapture a few days later. Spallanzani recaptured these bats and upon examining the stomach contents “discovered that the blind bats had been just as successful at catching insects as their sighted brethren”. It was then that he discovered that bats are not dependent on eyesight, and their ears are what guide the bat throughout the night. In his journal, he concluded: “thus, blinded bats are able to use their ears when they hunt insects... this discovery is incredible” (2296). 

Louis Jurine (CH) repeated Spallanzani’s experiments concluding that ears are the all-important organs in the bat’s perception. “The organ of hearing appears to supply that of sight in the discovery of bodies, and to furnish these animals with different sensations to direct flight and enable them to avoid obstacles which may present themselves” (674, 1876).

Hiram Stevens Maxim (GB) advanced the idea that bats use reflected low-frequency sounds generated by their wing beats to detect objects (1630).

Hamilton Hartridge (GB) hypothesized that bats emit sounds of high frequencies and short wavelengths (ultrasonic sounds) to avoid objects during flight (1114).

Donald Redfield Griffin (US) and Robert Galambos (US) discovered that bats use sonar echolocation to navigate, locate food, and orientate themselves in space. Griffin coined the term echolocation (1051, 1052).

Antonio Scarpa (IT) illustrated the human glossopharyngeal, vagus, hypoglossal, and cardiac nerves, being the first to demonstrate cardiac innervation (2136).

John Hunter (GB) discovered: 1) an elevated erythrocyte sedimentation rate in inflammatory blood, 2) that the blood vessels in the embryo of red-blooded animals originally contain colorless blood, and 3) that a subnormal blood supply is one of the most important endogenous factors contributing to wound infection. He appreciated that a patent ductus arteriosus and an atrial septal defect are life threatening, described a case of Fallot’s tetralogy, and observed that the ultimate cause of cardiac failure in a case of aortic valve incompetence may be in the myocardium rather than in an associated valvular lesion. Hunter believed that trauma is the cause of suppuration in wounds, i.e., bruises, mortifications, sloughs, whether the violence is due to a gunshot wound or to a surgical trauma. “…it is impossible that such a sore can heal while there is a slough to separate” (1271, 1272).

John Hunter (GB) stated the principle of reciprocal innervation of antagonistic muscles—“Whatever becomes a stimulus to one set of muscles, becomes a cause of relaxation to those which act in a contrary direction” (1271, 1272). 

Charles Scott Sherrington (GB) developed a theory of reflex behavior of antagonistic muscles which helped explain the way the body, under the coordinating guidance of the nervous system, behaved as a unit (Sherrington’s law = The law of reciprocal innervation: when one set of muscles is stimulated, muscles working against the activity of the first will be inhibited) (2248).

John Hunter (GB) introduced the doctrine of phlebitis and an appreciation of pyemia in his classic paper on inflammation of the internal coats of the veins (1271, 1272). 

Hunter rediscovered the system of vessels known as lymphatics. Through careful dissection and injections he established their anatomy and physiology as a separate system. He demonstrated that milk and fluids colored with indigo were absorbed by the lacteals but not by the veins. He taught that the function of these vessels was absorption and that they were not continuations of the arteries, a suggestion made by his brother, William Hunter (GB). He was one of the first to show that lymphatic flow eventually empties into the blood circulation at the left subclavian vein. Prior to this it was thought that the flow was the other way—out of the blood and into the lymphatics (1261, 1269, 1271, 1272). See, Thomas Bartholin; Bartholinus, 1653 and Olof Rudbeck, 1655.

John Hunter (GB) made studies of tendons, which laid the foundation for the cure of clubfeet. He discovered the branches of the olfactory nerves, the branches of the fifth nerve, the course of the arteries in the gravid uterus, and the presence of lymphatic vessels in birds. He coined the phrase sexually transmitted disease, and the word inflammation (1272). 


"The matter of this world is formed by necessity and chance." Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (2584)

The French government adopted the metric system. The concept originated with Gabriel Mouton (FR) who proposed a decimal system of measurement in 1670. In 1790, the French Revolutionary National Assembly asked the French Academy of Science to “deduce an invariable standard for all the measures and all the weights.” 

Joseph Louis Comte Lagrange (IT-FR) headed the French commission, which created the metric system of weights and measures (1130).

William Cruickshank (GB), in 1795, introduced chlorine into Woolwich Military Hospital as a disinfectant. "It is observed that the oxygenated muriatic acid gas was found to destroy the offensive smell of sores, that it destroyed specific contagion, and could be easily obtained, and very safely used. We had, therefore, given it a preference to other things; and in order that it may be more generally tried, we must insist on Mr. Cruickshank's manner of procuring and using it in the wards of the hospital." Based on the description of how it was produced the active disinfectant was doubtless sodium hypochlorite (2059).

Georges Léopold Chrétien Frédéric Dagobert Cuvier (FR) constructed a very modern concept of the mollusks. He divided invertebrates into mollusques, crustacés, insectes, vers, échinodermes, and zoophytes. Mollusques were subdivided into Céphalopodes, Gastéropodes, which included both naked and shelled forms and also parasitic copepods, and Acéphales, under which were arranged not only bivalves, but also tunicates, brachiopods, and barnacles (595-597).

Marcus Elieser Bloch (DE) wrote Systema Ichthyologica, which listed approximately 500 species of fish. Of these, 267 were presented as new to science or needing new names. Many of his suggested names are still valid and in use. In addition, he introduced 19 new generic names, many of which were accepted (296). He is one of the most important ichthyologists of the 18th century.

Thomas Andrew Knight (GB) was a pioneer in the grafting of fruit trees (1389, 1393).

Samuel Thomas Sömmerring (DE) noted that, “Carcinoma of the lips occurs most frequently where men indulge in pipe smoking; the lower lip is particularly affected by cancer when it is compressed between the tobacco pipe and the teeth” (2280).

Thomas Beddoes (GB) and his assistant, in 1795, experimented on themselves to demonstrate that nitrous oxide has anesthetic powers (213).

Humphry Davy (GB) inhaled nitrous oxide and described its exhilarating effect as well as its anesthetic property and suggested that it might be useful in surgery. He developed a method for its synthesis (630).

Philip Syng Physick (US), in a footnote in a medical journal, is credited with performing the first human-to-human blood transfusion, although his work was not published (2354).

Johann Christian Reil (DE) founded the first German journal dealing with physiology, Archiv für die Physiologie, which was to present works in physics, chemistry, histology, biology, and comparative anatomy.


Pierre André Latreille (FR) introduced the “natural method,” in which numerous characters are considered during the classification of insects, arachnids, and crustaceans. It was he who introduced the family as a rank intermediate between order and genus (1448). 

Christian Friedrich Samuel Hahnemann (DE) was the founder of homeopathy; a concept expounded in his work Organon der Rationellen Heilkunde (1081). Homeopathy is characterized by three concepts; first, the doctrine of similars, namely that diseases are curable by those drugs which produce effects on the body similar to the symptoms of the diseases; second, that the effect of drugs is increased by giving them in minute doses and; third, the notion that most chronic diseases are only a manifestation of suppressed itch or psora

Johann Christian Reil (DE) described the insula (island of Reil). This is a triangular area of the cerebral cortex, which forms the floor of the lateral cerebral fossa (2005).

John Abernethy (GB) performed the first successful ligation of the external iliac artery for aneurysm. It was not reported until later (20).

Georges Léopold Chrétien Frédéric Dagobert Cuvier (FR) read two papers in 1796. The first paper, Note on the Species of Living and Fossil Elephants, put forward for the first time a formal theory of extinctions. Cuvier's belief was that from time to time the Earth experienced global catastrophes in which groups of creatures were wiped out. He wrote, "All of these facts, consistent among themselves, and not opposed by any report, seem to me to prove the existence of a world previous to ours, destroyed by some kind of catastrophe." This paper was first published in 1800 under the title Mémoires sur les espèces d'éléphants vivants et fossiles (599).

In the second paper, Sur le megatherium, published in 1804, he described and analyzed a large skeleton found in Paraguay, which he would name Megatherium americanum. Cuvier concluded that this skeleton represented yet another extinct animal and, by comparing its skull with living species of tree-dwelling sloths, that it was a kind of ground-dwelling giant sloth (601).

These two papers are a milestone in paleontology and comparative anatomy.


William Cruickshank (GB) carried out a destructive distillation of sucrose and determined that it consists entirely of carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen (587).

William Cruickshank (GB) was the first to prepare purified sugar from the urine of a diabetic (2059).

William Hyde Wollaston (GB) characterized five chemically distinct principle constituents of urinary calculi in humans. These were lithic or uric acid, ammonium magnesium phosphate (triple phosphate), calcium oxalate, calcium carbonate, and sodium urate, which he had also discovered in gouty joints  (2729). 

William Cumberland Cruikshank (GB) was the first to observe mammalian eggs. He saw them in the oviduct of rabbits three days after mating (589). This observation, for the first time, explained why for a period of time after mating there was no sign of any conceptus in the uterus of mammals.

Philippe Pineal (FR), in 1797, coined the word démence (dementia) to describe some patients at the Bicetre (2429).

Jean-Etienne-Dominique Esquirol (FR) divided the dementias into acute, chronic, and senile varieties (821).

Pierre Fine (FR) was, in 1797, the first to construct a transverse colostomy by drawing out of a loop of the bowel and securing the mesentery to the skin to decompress obstructions from carcinoma of the rectum (863).

The Philosophical Magazine was founded.


“Come forth into the light of things,

Let Nature be your teacher”, from the poem, The Tables Turned, by William Wordsworth. 

Henry Cavendish (GB) calculated a value for gravitational force (472).

Edward Jenner (GB) developed a method for protecting against smallpox (red plague) which was far safer than variolation—the introduction of dried pustular material from an active case into a healthy person. The statement of a dairymaid, “I cannot take the smallpox because I have had the cowpox,” expressing the current rural English view, impelled him to make a direct test of its correctness. In May 1796, he transferred matter from a cowpox lesion on the arm of a milkmaid to a healthy boy (James Phipps), and in July followed it up with genuine smallpox virus. The boy failed to develop the latter disease.

This preliminary success in causing a harmless lesion to protect against a similar, but vastly more serious smallpox justified repetition on a larger scale. The first twenty-three cases were published in 1798, the method being designated vaccination in reference to the source (vacca, cow) of the injected material. In Case IV – page 13 - of the Inquiry Jenner describes a kind of reaction now known as anaphylaxis - an allergic hypersensitivity reaction of the body to a foreign protein or drug. Immediate recognition of the method’s worth led to wholesale vaccination in Europe and America (1327).

Thomas Jefferson (US), as President of the United States, wrote to Edward Jenner (GB): “Future nations will know by history only that the loathsome smallpox (red plague) has existed and by you has been extirpated” (1021).

John Haslam (GB) appears to have given the first description of general paralysis of the insane (1125).

Antoine Laurent Jessé Bayle (FR) provided a comprehensive description of general paresis, which is sometimes referred to as paralytic dementia, general paralysis of the insane, or "maladie de Bayle." Bayle argued that paralysis was only one facet of a complex but distinct disorder, which included both mental and physical symptoms, and which was secondary to a chronic inflammation of the arachnoid. His report links mental alienation with organic brain disease (206). 

Louis Florentin Calmeil (FR) wrote a full description of general paralysis of the insane, in which he correlated the pathology with its clinical signs (439).

Friedrich von Esmarch (DE) and Peter Willers Jessen (DE) were probably the first to say that syphilis caused general paresis (2579). Note: this condition is caused by the chronic meningoencephalitis that leads to cerebral atrophy in late-stage syphilis.  

Alexander Crichton (GB) provided an early description of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD) (580).

Thomas Robert Malthus (GB) published his Essay on Population, which later had a profound effect on the thinking of Charles Robert Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace. In this book he maintained that population would always outrun the food supply and that in the end, human numbers would have to be kept down by famine, disease, and war (1587).


William Smith (GB) was among the first to write about rock strata and was the first to make the point that each stratum contains its own characteristic form of fossils, not found in other strata. Relying largely on fossils to identify strata, civil engineer William Smith, in 1815, published a map of England and Wales, documenting a larger area than any map so far published (2266-2268). See, Nicolaus Steno, 1671.

Thomas Andrew Knight (GB) became more interested in trait transmission than in the particulars of fruit raising, so he switched to peas, which offered many desirable traits, a short generation time, and a flower form that allowed control over breeding. In experiments begun in 1787, Knight created hybrids in the second generation, and noted reappearance of the parental traits in the third generation. Others would repeat this observation in melons. Still, no one had yet sought the mechanism underlying the uniformity of the hybrids, and the reappearance of traits when the hybrids were crossed. Thomas Andrew Knight (GB) proposed the Knight-Darwin law of crossbreeding. It emphasized the value of crossbreeding to produce better plants. He noted dominance, recessiveness, and segregation in peas but did not establish their mathematical relationships (1392).

 (1390, 1392, 1393). See, Johann Gregor Mendel, 1865.

Mathew Baillie (GB) published the first pictorial work on pathological anatomy (157, 2052).


William Herschel (GB) discovered and named infrared light (1174, 1175).

Alessandro Volta (IT) described his discovery of the electric battery (2567). Humphry Davy (GB) also described the electric battery although at a slightly later date (626).

Francois Nicolas Appert (FR) developed a method for preservation of otherwise perishable foods. He placed the material to be preserved in clean, well-corked bottles and heated it to the boiling point of water for a considerable period of time. In 1810 he was awarded a prize of 12,000 francs by Napoleon for his discovery (95). This discovery served as the foundation for the vast canning industry of today.

Johann Georg Heinrich Zeder (DE) edited the 1800 edition of Erster Nachtrag zur Naturgeschichte der Eingeweidewurmer written by Johann August Ephraim Goeze (DE). This book presented the first natural grouping of parasitic worms under the common names of roundworms, hooked worms, flukes, tapeworms, and bladder worms (1015). See, Rudolphi, 1808.

Alexandre-Théodore Brongniart, Jr. (FR) divided the reptiles into the chelonians, saurians, ophidians, and batrachians. He recognized that the batrachians (amphibians) were quite different from the others (391). See, Pierre André Latreille, 1804.

Antoine Francois Fourcroy (FR) compared the qualities of blood serum to those of egg whites and concluded that serum contains albumine. He also examined clotted blood and used the name fibrine for the white water-insoluble material left when the red was washed from the clot (912).

The journal Proceedings of the Royal Society of London was founded. It was subdivided into series A and series B in 1905.


Johann Wilhelm Ritter (DE) discovered that the darkening effect of light on silver chloride did not end at the violet end of the spectrum, but continued beyond the violet range of the sun’s radiation and even increased. This represents his discovery of the ultraviolet region of the electromagnetic spectrum (2037, 2038).

William Hyde Wollaston (GB) also discovered the ultraviolet region of the electromagnetic spectrum (2730). 

Claude-Louis Berthollet (FR) proposed that chemical reactions are reversible; noting the ion exchange reaction: 2NaCl + Ca (CO3)2 going toNa2CO3 + CaCl2 (254, 255).

Pierre Eugène Marcellin Berthelot (FR) and L. Péan de Saint-Gilles (FR) showed that concentration of chemical reactants has an effect on the concentration of products in chemical reactions. They found that the formation of an ester by the interaction of an acid with an alcohol is a reversible or balanced action, also in the case of the formation of ethyl acetate from ethyl alcohol and acetic acid, a point of equilibrium is reached, beyond which the reacting system cannot pass, unless the system be disturbed in some way by the removal of one of the products of the reaction (252). 

Cato M. Guldberg (NO) and Peter Waage (NO) showed that an equilibrium is reached in chemical reactions, and that equilibrium can be approached from either direction (1067-1069). 

Jacobus Hendricus van't Hoff (NL) quantified the expression for the equilibrium of a chemical reaction and showed that it is a function of the concentration of the various species involved, and that the concentrations appear as powers corresponding to the stoichiometric number in the balanced chemical equation (2539).

Christiaan Hendrik Persoon (ZA-DE-FR) was the first to use the word mycologia (mycology) as applied to the study of fungi (1874). The nomenclature and classification of the fungi in his Synopsis Methodica Fungorum and his Mycologia Europaea laid the foundation upon which later mycologists based their work (1874, 1875).

Elias Magnus Fries (SE) authored Systema Mycologicum, which along with Persoon’s books represents a valuable expansion of fungal nomenclature and classification (939).

Jean Pierre Étinne Vaucher (CH) was the first to observe and interpret conjugation and spore formation in algae, particularly in Ectosperma, later named Vaucheria by Augustin Pyrame de Candolle (CH) (2546, 2547).

Johann Hedwig (RO-DE) made a clear distinction between mosses and liverworts and demonstrated the value of the peristome in classification of mosses. This book contains all moss species known at the time and is still the basis of modern scientific nomenclature of mosses (1149).

Charles-Francois Brisseau de Mirbel (FR) was the founder of vegetable histology in France. He proposed that all plant tissue is modified parenchyma. This work brought him recognition as a founder of plant cytology and plant physiology (371, 373).

C. Francois Huber (FR) and Jean Senebier (FR) found that germinating seeds consume oxygen and eliminate carbon dioxide (1253).

Antoine Francois Fourcroy (FR) and Louis Nicolas Vauquelin (FR) discovered the presence of magnesium in bones (913).

Jean Baptiste Pierre Antoine de Monet, Chevalier de Lamarck (FR) produced works on invertebrates which represent a great advance over existing classifications; he was the first to separate the Crustacea, Arachnida, and Annelida from the Insecta. His classification of the mollusks was far in advance of anything proposed previously; Lamarck broke with tradition in removing the tunicates and the barnacles from the Mollusca. It was Lamarck who first used the terms vertebrate and invertebrate, and helped popularize the word biology. Even the great Carl von Linné had avoided attempting any real invertebrate classification (679, 682, 683).

Jacob Anton Helm (AT) explored gastric function, “I repeated the experiment [in a 56-year-old woman who had long suffered with a spontaneous gastric fistula] with milk and noticed that it always turned sour and coagulated. The sole exception was immediately after the patient had flushed her stomach [by drinking water]; the milk, which she drank immediately after, did not coagulate for some time, presumably for the lack of gastric juice. That [i.e., secretion of gastric juice] could be hastened always by stimulating the inner surface of her stomach with the finger” (1157).

Marie-Francois-Xavier Bichat (FR) was the first to draw the attention of the anatomist and the physiologist to the organs of the body as a complex of simpler structures. Though working without the benefit of microscope he was able to show that each organ was built up of different types of tissues. Furthermore, different organs might possess some tissues in common. All told, he identified twenty-one types of tissues. He performed numerous autopsies and gave detailed descriptions of the tissues of the body in health and in disease. He was the founder of the science of pathological anatomy (263, 264, 266-268).

Astley Paston Cooper (GB) reported three cases of eustachian obstruction deafness relieved by perforation of the membrana tympani (myringotomy) (548). This operation was first performed by Eli, a quack, in 1760. 

John Bell (GB) was the first surgeon to ligate the gluteal artery (226).

Philippe Pinel (FR) was the first physician to introduce a humane methodology into the treatment of insane patients. Up to this point they had often been chained, displayed as public curiosities, and otherwise treated cruelly (1902, 1903).


Jean-François Derosne (FR) was the first to separate from opium a white crystalline substance that he named narceine (733).

Pierre-Joseph Pelletier (FR) isolated narceine, a new opium alkaloid (1868).

William Forsyth (GB) described a combined wash composed of tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum), sulfur, unslaked lime, and elder buds to control insects and fungi on fruit trees (905).

Louis Jacques Thénard (FR) observed that during fermentation of gooseberry juice a deposit occurs resembling brewer’s yeast. Added to a fresh sugar containing liquid this deposit could start fermentation. The ferment was insoluble in water. He found that a similar process occurred in cherries, pears, apples, barley (Hordeum vulgare), and wheat (Triticum spp.) (2405).

Franz Andreas Bauer (AT-GB), in 1802, was the first to note syncytia (sing. syncytium) in plant tissues. They appeared in the style of Bletia tankervilliae (Orchidaceae). This finding was not published until much later (198). 

Georges Léopold Chrétien Frédéric Dagobert Cuvier (FR) wrote Lecons D’Anatomie Comparée and Le Règne Animal in which he was the first to emphasize the comparison of the anatomy of one species with another. During his comparative studies he realized that in living creatures there is a unity of structural plan and a correlation of parts. There is a direct correlation between body parts and the lifestyle of the organism. Once this correlation is well understood then one body part can often be used to make predictions about the structure and physiology of the creature from which it came. This is referred to as the correlation theory. Although Aristotle knew this he did not tap its predictive power, as did Cuvier. Cuvier is considered the founder of the science of comparative anatomy. See, Galen ca. 175, Severino 1645, Grew 1681, and Tyson 1699.

He extended and perfected the classificatory system of Carl von Linné and in the process created the concept of phylum into which he grouped related classes.

In Le Règne Animal he was the first to draw a distinction between planarians and nemertines. He called the nemertines Nemertes (Gr. sea nymph) (600, 602, 603).

William Heberden (GB) wrote, Commentaries on the History and Cure of Diseases, in which he gave clear accounts of hydrocephalus, aphasia, angina pectoris, Heberdon’s nodes (nodes on the fingers in advanced life), nyctalopia (nightblindness), chickenpox which he distinguishes from smallpox (red plague), and herpes (zoster) called the shingles (from cingulum). He gave an excellent description of the symptoms attendant to stone in the bladder, “The signs of a stone in the bladder are, great and frequent irritations to make water, a stoppage in the middle of making it, and a pain with heat just after it is made; a tenesmus, pain in the extremity of the urethra, incontinence or suppression of urine, together with a quiet pulse, and the health in no bad state.” He also noted that failure to urinate for a period in excess of six to seven days is usually fatal (1137-1139). He coined the phrase angina pectoris.

Edward Jenner (GB), in the 1770’s, had discovered that angina pectoris is caused by obstruction of blood flow due to disease of the coronary arteries. He did not publish this discovery, rather it was published in 1799 by Caleb Hillier Parry (GB). See, Parry under Fothergill, 1776.

Smallpox (red plague) killed about two thirds of the Omaha Indians in what is now Northeast Nebraska (1396).

William Paley (GB) in this book, Natural Theology: or, Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity, Collected from the Appearances of Nature laid out a full exposition of natural theology, the belief that the nature of God could be understood by reference to His creation, the natural world. He introduced one of the most famous metaphors in the philosophy of science, the image of the watchmaker.“ . . . when we come to inspect the watch, we perceive . . . that its several parts are framed and put together for a purpose, e.g. that they are so formed and adjusted as to produce motion, and that motion so regulated as to point out the hour of the day; that if the different parts had been differently shaped from what they are, or placed after any other manner or in any other order than that in which they are placed, either no motion at all would have been carried on in the machine, or none which would have answered the use that is now served by it. . . . The inference we think is inevitable, that the watch must have had a maker -- that there must have existed, at some time and at some place or other, an artificer or artificers who formed it for the purpose which we find it actually to answer, who comprehended its construction and designed its use.” Living organisms, Paley argued, are even more complicated than watches, "in a degree which exceeds all computation." How else to account for the often amazing adaptations of animals and plants? Only an intelligent Designer could have created them, just as only an intelligent watchmaker can make a watch (1823).


William Henry (GB) formulated what we now call Henry’s Law. The amount of gas dissolved in a pure liquid, when the system reaches equilibrium, is directly proportional to the partial pressure of that gas in the mixture of gases above the liquid (1161-1163).

André Michaud (FR) wrote Flora Borealis-Americana, North America's first Flora, describing more than 1,500 species (1675).

John Conrad Otto (US) was the first to write an article for a medical journal on bleeders (hemophilia) (1813).

John Richardson Young (US) studied digestion in the bullfrog Rona ocelot. He confirmed the work of Edward Stevens and Lazzaro Spallanzani and extended it to show that gastric juice did not attack living tissue (he placed the leg of a young living frog in the stomach of a larger frog for five days), and would attack vegetable foods and dead animal tissues (2746).

A.J. Renoult (FR) gave the first definitive record of schistosomiasis (enemic hematuria) caused by Schistosoma haematobium when he described an epidemic among Napoleon’s army in Egypt. He wrote, "A most stubborn haematuria manifested itself amongst the soldiers of the French army... continual and very abundant sweats diminished quantity of urine... becoming thick and bloody." Renoult believed that excessive sweating, forced marches, and riding horses caused it (2019).

Theodor Maximillian Bilharz (DE), in 1851, and Karl Theodor Ernst von Siebold (DE) discovered Schistosoma haematobium in the blood of the portal vein during autopsy of an Egyptian in Cairo. They named it Distomum haematobium because they thought it had two mouth openings. This disease, caused by a parasitic flatworm, would become known as bilharziasis or schistosomiasis (274, 275).

Heinrich Meckel von Hemsbach (DE) coined the terms "bilharzia" and "bilharziosis" in 1856.

David F. Weinland (DE) suggested the name Schistosoma (schistos = cleft, soma = body) (2657). 

Theodor Maximillian Bilharz (DE) and Wilhelm Griesinger (DE) made the connection with urinary tract disease and Schistosoma (273).

Patrick Manson (GB) reached the conclusion that there were two species of Schistosoma in humans (1595).

Robert Thompson Leiper (GB) established the existence of Shistosoma mansoni as a separate species (1482).

Robert Thompson Leiper (GB) worked out the life cycles of the parasitic trematodes Schistosoma haematobium and Schistosoma mansoni; including their intermediate snail hosts (1483, 1484).

A.C. Fisher () described and named Shistosoma intercalatum from the Belgian Congo (868).

B.E. Vic-Dupont (FR), E. Bernard (FR), J. Soubrane (FR), B. Halle (FR), and C. Richir (FR) found and described Shistosoma mekongi in the Mekong river valley of China (2553).  

Dominique Jean Larrey (FR) participated in 60 battles as a surgeon to the French army. He was probably the first to describe trench foot and to indicate that Egyptian ophthalmia (trachoma) is contagious. Larrey developed a flexible rubber catheter to feed patients with a wound of the glottis. He was the first to take first-aid treatment to casualties on the battlefield with the introduction of flying ambulances and introduced the concept of triage in the evacuation of his patients. He also tried to use refrigeration as a local anesthetic and is said to have performed more than 200 amputations in 24 hours. Larrey was one of the first to describe the therapeutic use of maggots and performed one of the first amputations at the hip (1812). The Clinique Chirugicale was the most significant of his publications. Larrey's name remains associated with an amputation of the shoulder joint, Mediterranean yellow fever, and ligation of the femoral artery below the inguinal ligament (1444-1446, 1572, 2117).


“Life is the ensemble of functions that resist death.” Marie-Francois-Xavier Bichat (265)

Sigismund Friederich Hermbstaedt (DE) founded Archiv de Agriculturchemie, the first journal devoted to agricultural chemistry.

Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac (FR) and Friedrich Wilhelm Heinrich Alexander von Humboldt (DE) accurately determined the proportions of hydrogen and oxygen in water, showing the volume ratio to be 2:1 (978).

Joseph Louis Proust (FR) was among the first chemists to investigate different sugars. He was the first to study the sugar of grapes (glucose) and prepare it in pure form (1964). His work also led to the establishment of the chemical principle that chemical compounds are of fixed proportions, however prepared, i.e., law of definite proportions or Proust’s Law (1961-1963).

Nicolas Théodore de Saussure (CH-FR) published experiments that represent the first treatment of the subject of photosynthesis using quantitative methods and modern chemical terminology. He found that water enters into the photosynthetic production of organic matter and that, in the dark; plant tissues take up oxygen and release carbon dioxide. This implied that respiration is a general property of all living tissue. De Saussure developed the first balanced equation for the process and proved that the inorganic chemical content of a soil profoundly influenced the inorganic chemical content of plants growing on it. He also described experiments showing that linseed oil is able to condense with oxygen (709).

Nicolas Théodore de Saussure (CH-FR), in 1804, mentions an experiment in which he “placed raquettes of the cactus Opuntia in CO2 enriched atmospheres and found that CO2 and oxygen were absorbed simultaneously.” This can be considered the discovery of Crassulacean acid metabolism (709).

Arend Friedrich August Wiegmann (DE) and L. Polstorff (DE), in 1842, would convincingly support these results on photosynthesis (2690).

Benjamin Heyne (GB), in a letter of 1813 to the British Linnaean Society, reported diurnal changes in the acidity of Crassulacean leaves (278). This was an early clue to Crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM) in plants.

Meirion Thomas (GB) and Harry Beevers (GB) rediscovered Crassulacean acid metabolism. It was Thomas who coined the phrase Crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM) in a talk before the Society of Experimental Biology (Edinburgh) in 1947. It appeared in print for the first time in 1947, in Thomas’ book Plant Physiology (278, 2417, 2418).

Georg Gottfried Zinke (DE) succeeded in transmitting rabies from a rabid dog to a normal one, and from dog to a rabbit and a hen, by injection of saliva (2762). This proved that the disease is infectious.

Benjamin Smith Barton (US) authored the first American textbook on botany; including plates drawn by William Bartram (US) (190).

Antonio Scarpa (IT) provided the first accurate description of the pathological anatomy of congenital clubfoot (2138).

Antonio Scarpa (IT) is the first to make a distinction between true and false aneurisms (2137).

Giovanni Aldini (IT) described alleviating cardiac syncope through galvanic energy (49).

John Warren (US), in 1804, excised the parotid gland (2642).

Juan-Bautista Bru de Ramon (ES) mounted the first relatively accurate fossil reconstruction of an extinct animal. It was from South America. Georges Léopold Chrétien Frédéric Dagobert Cuvier (FR) classified it as a giant sloth (598).


Lorenz Oken (DE) was the first to propose that the body is a collection of independently viable microscopic units that never arise de novo out of inanimate matter but are always formed by the division of pre-existing units. He wrote “Nullum vivum ex ovo. Omne vivum e vivo.”[No living thing from an egg, all living things from other living things] (1787).

Francois-Vincent Raspail (FR) used the phrase Omnis cellula e cellula (1981).

Rudolph Ludwig Karl Virchow (DE) is often credited with coining the catch phrase Omnis cellula e cellula [All cells arise from cells] (2562). As you can see from the above, Virchow was certainly not the first to reach this conclusion.

John Dalton (GB), at a meeting of The Philosophical Society of Manchester, presented evidence sufficient to convince other scientists that atoms exist (the atomic theory) (612, 613).

Pierre-Jean Robiquet (FR) and Nicolas Louis Vauquelin (FR) were the first to isolate the amino acid asparagine. The source was asparagus juice (2049, 2549). This was the first amino acid to be discovered.

Antoine Francois Fourcroy (FR) and Louis Nicolas Vauquelin (FR) published an elaborate analysis of guano. They state that it contains a fourth part of its weight of uric acid (914).

Friedrich Wilhelm Adam Sertürner (DE) isolated from opium a chemical with dream-inducing properties. He called it morphium and discovered that it is an alkaloid, a substance unknown and even undreamed of at that time (2225-2227).

Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac (FR) named it morphine over the objections of Sertürner (2228). The name is derived from Morpheus, the Roman God of dreams.

Opium was subsequently found to contain some twenty alkaloids including codeine, isolated by Pierre-Jean Robiquet (FR) in 1832 (2050), papaverine, isolated by George Merck (DE) in 1848 (1663), and heroin, isolated in 1874 by Charles Romley Alder Wright (GB) (2741). Sertürner made it possible for physicians, for the first time in history, to prescribe a measured dose of a pure alkaloid. He was twenty years old at the time of this great work (2225-2228).

Armand Séguin (FR) communicated to the Académie des Sciences, in 1804, announcing the isolation and characterization of morphine. As this work was not published until 1814, the discovery of the first of the alkaloids, morphine, is generally attributed to Sertürner (2203).

Charles Louis Derosne (FR) isolated narcotine, an opium alkaloid (733).

The German company Bayer introduced heroin (diacetylmorphine), the “heroic drug” which, they said, shared morphine's ability to relieve pain but was safer. It was widely sold to suppress heavy coughs, to relieve the pain of childbirth and serious war injuries, as a preliminary to anesthesia, and in certain mental disorders.

Friedrich Wilhelm Heinrich Alexander von Humboldt (DE) and Aime Jacques Alexandre Bonpland (FR) wrote Essai sur la Géographie des Plantes in which they viewed the plant world on a gigantic scale and searched for laws that might govern the nature of plant distribution (2599). This was one of the first works on plant geography.

A.R. Currier (FR) first delineated the anatomic structure of the medulla and cortex of the adrenal gland. Ref

Philip Syng Physick (US) was the first doctor in America to wash out the stomach with a tube and syringe in cases of poisoning. He introduced deerskin ligatures, devised a successful operation for an artificial anus, invented a tonsillotome, and described diverticula of the rectum (763, 1977).

Gaspard Vieusseux (CH), L. Danielsson (US), and E. Mann (US) gave the first accounts of cerebrospinal meningitis (616, 2558).

Nathan Strong, Jr. (US) gave one of the first and most important descriptions of cerebrospinal meningitis (2350).

Typhus outbreaks occurred during the occupation of Vienna by the French army in 1805, and spread throughout central Europe with Napoleon's army, affecting both soldiers and civilians (1396).

Thomas Bateman (GB), Andrew Duncan, Jr. (GB), and Henry Reeve (GB) established the Edinburgh Medical and Surgical Journal.


Jöns Jakob Berzelius (SE) distinguished between the protein “globulin” and the pigmented “haem” compound contained in the red blood cell, before correctly identifying that the latter component carried the iron moiety. He found lactic acid in fluid extracted from meat in 1808 (256, 258).

Heinrich Einhof (DE) discovered a white material having the odor of cheese and common to peas, lentils, and other leguminous plants (806).

Henri Braconnot (FR) named Einhof’s substance legumin and said it is no different from the casein of milk (357, 358).

Thomas Andrew Knight (GB) performed the first accurate studies showing geotropism of plants, i.e., plants' positive and negative responses to gravity (1391, 1393).

Johann Christian Reil (DE) described alcohol as a good tissue fixative (2006, 2008).

Olof Swartz (SE) wrote a very important work on the ferns of the world (2368).

Pierre André Latreille (FR) took numerous characters into consideration with the goal of arranging the crustaceans, insects, and arachnids into a natural order. The result was one of the great books of zoological classification, Genera Crustaceorum et Insectorum (1449).

Francois Chaussier (FR) was the first to delineate the currently accepted four lobes of the cerebral hemispheres. He coined the phrase lobus frontalis, or frontal lobe (487).

Richard Owen (GB) introduced the phrase prefrontal cortex (1817).

Jean-Louis-Marc Alibert (FR) gave the first description of sycosis barbae (Alibert’s mentagra) and mycosis fungoides (59).

Philipp Bozzini (AT) inaugurated endoscopy with a rigid instrument. He developed a light conductor, which he called lichtleiter, to avoid the problems of inadequate illumination. This device allowed him to view into body cavities such as the mouth, nose, ears, vagina, dilated cervix, urethra, female urinary bladder, and rectum. This early endoscope used an eyepiece and an expandable cannula for peering into cavities. It used a simple candle for a light source. Bozzini's invention established the principles that guided the development of endoscopy, and it inspired others to forge ahead in this new field (354, 355).

Georg Kelling (DE) performed a coelioskope (laparoscopic) procedure on dogs (1358).

Hans Christian Jacobaeus (SE) reported a laparoscopic operation in humans (1318).

Heinz Kalk (DE) is considered the founder of laparoscopy (endoscopy of the peritoneal cavity). Kalk developed a 135-degree lens system and a dual trocar approach. He used laparoscopy as a diagnostic method for liver and gallbladder disease. In 1939, he published his experience of 2000 liver biopsies performed using local anesthesia without mortality (1346).

H. Courtenay Clarke (US) invented, published, patented, presented and recorded on film laparoscopic surgery (514).

Juarez C. Tarasconi (BR) reported the first laparoscopic organ resection (salpingectomy) (2388).

Kurt Semm (DE), in 1981, performed the first laparoscopic appendectomy (2208).

Jean-Nicolas Corvisart (FR) wrote the most outstanding book on cardiology of the time. He classified heart disease on the basis of the anatomical structures involved—pericardium, heart muscle, endocardium and valves. He employed the term organic lesion, made a distinction between hypertrophy and dilatation of the heart, and differentiated between right and left heart failure. He described mitral and aortic valvular lesions, and tricuspid stenosis. He referred to carditis as a conception of inflammation of the heart as a whole (558-560).


A measles epidemic occurs in England and Scotland.


Thomas Young (GB) was the first to insist that force can no longer be expressed as a simple mathematical formula of mass times velocity squared and suggested in its place the term energy for this arithmetical product, adding that some method must be discovered to define the proper relation between work and heat. In the same lecture series he suggested that Dalton’s color blindness was probably due to the absence of the retinal resonator for red (2748). Note: The seeds of the theory of specific nerve energies can be found in Thomas Young’s work. This theory, which would blossom within the next few decades, stressed the importance of stimulating specific receptors and nerves for perception. Unfortunately, it is believed that Young never realized the full significance or the implications of his theory. Still, it was Young who may have been the first to explain three primary colors on the basis of visual physiology as opposed to the physics of light. As he put it, trichromatic theory is based “not in the nature of light, but in the constitution of man.”

Jöns Jakob Berzelius (SE), in 1807, found elevated lactic acid in the muscles of hunted stags (257, 2575).

Johann Joseph Scherer (DE) gave the first description of lactic acid in human blood after death and also the first demonstration of lactic acid as a pathological finding in septic and hemorrhagic shock (2162, 2163).

Hermann Ludwig Ferdinand von Helmholtz (DE) presented findings suggesting that lactic acid forms at the expense of glycogen (2592).

Carl Folwarczny (AT) was the first to demonstrate lactic acid in the blood of a living patient. The patient was suffering from leukemia (894, 895).

Emil Heinrich du Bois-Reymond (CH-DE) reported that following muscle contraction or death, acid appears in the muscles (769-771, 774).

Rudolf Peter Heinrich Heidenhain (DE), 1864, reported that the amount of lactic acid increased with the amount of work done (1151).

Walter Morley Fletcher (GB) and Frederick Gowland Hopkins (GB) confirmed Emil Heinrich du Bois-Reymond’s discovery that lactic acid accumulates during muscle contraction and Ludimar Hermann’s (CH) conclusion that lactic acid production in muscle is an anaerobic process (1169). They went on to show that the anaerobic phase is followed by an aerobic phase during which the acid disappears (878).

Johann Christian Reil (DE) proposed the name nucleus for a cluster of cells within brain tissue, and described the vermis (the median lobe of the cerebellum) in man and other animals together with the peduncles (fibrous bands by which the cerebellum is attached to the brain stem) and the medullary and caudate nuclei. He noted the correlation of cerebellar complexity with ascent of the phylogenetic scale (2007-2012).

Franz Joseph Gall (DE-FR) declares that insanity results from brain illness or defect (965).


Humphry Davy (GB) discovered potassium and sodium. He named potassium (627).

Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac (FR), and Louis Jacques Thénard (FR) announced their discovery of boron on 14 November 1808. They called it bore (974).

Humphry Davy (GB), in a memoir read to the Royal Society of London on 30 June, 1808, described how he ignited boric acid along with potassium in a gold tube, producing in the process a black substance later recognized as boron. In his fourth Bakerian Lecture on 15 December 1808 he claimed discovery of a new element (627, 628, 947). Boron is probably not required in the diet of humans but it might be a necessary ultra-trace element. Green algae and higher plants require boron.

Karl Asmund Rudolphi (SE-DE) created for the roundworms, hooked worms, flukes, tapeworms, and bladder worms the scientific names Nematoidea, Acanthocephala, Trematoda, Cestoidea, and Cystica respectively (2078). Contracaecum rudolphii, Rudolphinus, and Schistomeringos rudolphi delle Chiaje commemorate him.

William Allen (GB) and William Hasledine Pepys (GB) studied many human subjects and concluded that the volume of oxygen consumed in respiration is exactly replaced by the carbonic acid gas generated (61, 62).

Charles Badham (GB) coined the term bronchitis in his monograph on the subject (151).

Robert Willan (GB) and Thomas Bateman (GB), in 1808, wrote a landmark in the history of dermatology and in medical illustration. It contains the first use of the word "lupus" to describe cutaneous tuberculosis (197). Willan was the first to classify skin diseases, and give the correct clinical descriptions of many diseases. Both were based predominantly on morphologic features rather than on the etiologic or pathophysiologic characteristics of a disease. He identified eight categories of disease: papulae, squamae, exanthemata, bullae, pustulae, vesiculae, tubercula, and maculae. Willan was the first to use the term wheal for skin lesions that occur in nettle rash. The term is now used for skin lesions in urticaria, serum disease and other allergic conditions.

Astley Paston Cooper (GB), in 1808, ligated the external iliac to treat a femoral aneurysm (550).

Astley Paston Cooper (GB) ligated the common carotid artery on Nov. 1, 1805. The patient died, but a second case on 22 June 1808 proved successful (549, 551).

David Hosack (US), in 1808, performed the first ligation of the femoral artery for aneurysm in America (1572).

John Hahn (US) performed a successful operation to repair a strangulated femoral hernia ten days after the obstruction occurred (1080). 

Ralph Cuming (GB), in 1808, performed an interscapular-thoracic amputation (excision of arm, scapula and clavicle) (1289).


Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac (FR) announced his law of combining volumes of gases at the 31 December 1808 meeting of the Société Philomatique in Paris. It appeared in print in 1809. He said, “gases combine in very simple proportions …and…the apparent contraction in volume which they experience on combination has also a simple relation to the volume of the gases, or at least to one of them” (976).

Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac (FR), and Louis Jacques Thénard (FR) cautiously announced their discovery of chlorine before the Society d’Arcueil on 26 February 1809 (975).

Humphrey Davy (GB) is also associated with the discovery of chlorine (629).

Charles-Francois Brisseau de Mirbel (FR) concluded from his numerous observations of plant structure that "the plant is wholly formed of a continuous cellular membranous tissue. Plants are made up of cells, all parts of which are in continuity and form one and the same membranous tissue" (372).

Jean Baptiste Pierre Antoine de Monet, Chevalier de Lamarck (FR) investigated the microscopic structure of plants and animals. He remarked, “It has been recognized for a long time that the membranes which form the envelopes of the brain, of the nerves, of vessels, of all kinds of glands, of viscera, of muscles and their fibers, and even the skin of the body are in general the productions of cellular tissue. But no one, so far as I know, has yet perceived that cellular tissue is the general matrix of all organization and that without this tissue no living body would be able to exist, nor could it have been formed” (681). This statement precedes the cell theory of Schleiden and Schwann by nearly 30 years.

Gottfried Reinhold Treviranus (DE), Johann Heinrich Friedrich Link (DE) and Johann Jacob Paul Moldenhawer (DE) suggested that cells are separable into individual units. Moldenhawer differentiated between two basic tissue types, vascular (gefässbündel) and parenchymatous. He described and illustrated fibers, vessels, vascular bundles, and identified the cellular nature of the cambium noting that wood was internal to it and bast external. He correctly interpreted secondary thickening and annual rings. Stomata, he observed, were not cells with a hole in them, but rather openings or pores surrounded by two cells. Moldenhawer emphasized that every cell has its own wall independent of that of surrounding cells and guessed that there is a cement that holds them together (1510, 1691, 2442).

René-Joachim-Henri Dutrochet (FR) further advanced the cell principle when he stated, “All organic tissues are actually globular cells of exceeding smallness, which appear to be united only by simple adhesive forces; thus all tissues, all animal (and plant) organs, are actually only a cellular tissue variously modified. This uniformity of finer structure proves that organs actually differ among themselves merely in the nature of the substances contained in the vesicular cells of which they are composed” (792).

Matthias Jakob Schleiden (DE) elaborated the cell theory for plants. This theory states that all plants are made up of cells or material formed from cells, and that each cell contains certain essential components such as a nucleus and a surrounding membrane. His concept of how cells originate was incorrect. He suggests that cells are totipotent (2165, 2166). See, de Lamarck, 1809.

Theodor Ambrose Hubert Schwann (DE) elaborated the cell theory as it applies to animals. This theory states that all animals are made up of cells or material formed from cells, and that each cell contains certain essential components such as a nucleus and a surrounding membrane. He was incorrect about the way in which cells originate. Schwann pointed out the similarities and differences between plants and animals then expanded the concept into a general theory of the cellular basis of life, stating that the cell is the general or universal unit of all life. “One common principle of evolution is laid down for the most highly differentiated elementary parts of the organisms, and this principle of evolution is the cell-formation” (2188). See, de Lamarck, 1809.

Jean Baptiste Pierre Antoine de Monet, Chevalier de Lamarck (FR) wrote Philosophie Zoologique in which he emphasized the fundamental unity of life, the capacity of species to vary; and the importance of environmental influences. Here he elaborated a theory of evolution based on heritable modification of organs through continued use and loss through disuse. He affirmed that all species, including man, are descended from other species (681, 684). Lamarck was the first biologist of top rank to devise, boldly and straightforwardly, a scheme rationalizing the evolutionary development of life, and maintaining that the species were not fixed but that they changed and developed. In 1801 Lamarck wrote, “ . . . time and favorable conditions are the two principal means which nature has employed in giving existence to all her productions. We know that for her time has no limit, and that consequently she always has it at her disposal” (679). Charles Robert Darwin wrote in 1861: “Lamarck was the first man whose conclusions on the subject excited much attention. This justly celebrated naturalist first published his views in 1801. . . he upholds the doctrine that all species, including man, are descended from other species. He first did the eminent service of arousing attention to the probability of all change in the organic, as well as in the inorganic world, being the result of law, and not of miraculous interposition” (619, 622).

Albrecht Daniel Thaër (DE), in 1802, established on his private lands the first institute devoted to agricultural experimentation. In 1804 Frederick William III, King of Prussia, appointed him Privy Counsellor and head of a new State Agricultural Institute at Möglin. He carried out experiments devoted to fertilizers, crop rotation, agronomy, and the relative nutritional value of different feed crops. He published his four volumes on Principles of Rational Husbandry between 1809 and 1812 (2403).

Johann Heinrich Friedrich Link (DE) isolated the dimorphic, yeast-like fungus Geotrichum candidum from leaf mold. He also described the Aspergillus species: Aspergillus candidus, Aspergillus flavus and others (1511). Geotrichum candidum is associated with a chronic bronchitis with a persistent cough.

Alexander Walker (GB) insisted that the anterior (ventral) and posterior (dorsal) roots of spinal nerves were specialized such that posterior roots were motor and anterior roots sensory (2624, 2625). Unfortunately he got it backward, nevertheless his insistence on the division was important.

Charles Bell (GB) wrote essays on the anatomy of expression in painting, described the exterior respiratory nerve, discovered the lesion of the seventh facial nerve causing facial paralysis, and demonstrated that the nerves of the special senses could be traced from specific areas of the brain to their end organs. He proposed that motor nerves traverse the anterior roots of the spinal nerves (222-225). The 1811 pamphlet contains the first reference to experimental work on motor functions of ventral spinal nerve roots. The eponyms of the respiratory nerve of Bell, Bell’s Palsy, and Bell-Magendie law perpetuate his name. The Bell-Magendie law states that sensory neurons traverse the posterior (dorsal) root of the spinal cord while motor neurons traverse the anterior (ventral) root of the spinal cord. The naming of this phenomenon for Bell is interesting since Francois Magendie (FR) deserves more credit for the discovery than does Bell. See, Francois Magendie, 1822 and Johannes Petrus Müller, 1831. 

Francois Magendie (FR) deserves the chief credit for the discovery that the anterior (ventral) nerve roots of the spinal cord are motor; that is, carry impulses to the muscles and that the posterior (dorsal) nerve roots were sensory (elicited pain). He described the apertura medialis ventriculi quarte- the foramen of Magendie (1565, 1566, 2625). See, Alexander Monro secundus, 1783.

Johannes Petrus Müller (DE) confirmed the findings of Bell and Magendie concerning the anterior and posterior nerve roots of the spine (1733). 

Francois Magendie (FR) presented to the Académie des Sciences and to the Société Philomatique the results of his first experimental work, which he carried out in collaboration with the botanist and physician Alire Raffeneau-Delille (1778-1850). In a series of ingenious experiments on various animals, the two investigators studied the toxic action of several drugs of vegetable origin, particularly of upas, nux vomica, and St. Ignatius’s bean. These experiments mark the beginning of modern pharmacology. For the first time an experimental comparison was made of the similar effects produced by drugs of different botanical origin (1563, 1564).

Jean Baptiste Pierre Antoine de Monet, Chevalier de Lamarck (FR) created the name Annelida (681, 684).

Benjamin Rush (US) pointed out a connection between the extraction of decayed and diseased teeth (a focal infection) and the cure of general diseases. He advised their extraction in every case in which they were decayed (2098).

Ludwig Lewin Jacobson (DK), in 1809, announced to the Danske Videnskabernes Selskab his rediscovery of and researches concerning a hitherto unknown absorptive organ in the human nose, the vomeronasal organ (later named after him "the Jacobsonian organ") (1319). Note: in most mammals , this organ specializes in the detection of pheromones, which are molecules carrying innate signals. In humans, this vestigial organ is located below the inner surface of the nose.

Ephraim McDowell (US) while a young doctor in Danville, Kentucky, on the American frontier, performed the first successful elective laparotomy. He removed an ovarian tumor weighing 22.5 pounds from Mrs. Jane Crawford. The operation took about 25 minutes, was done without anesthesia, the patient exhibiting a full and uncomplicated recovery. She lived an additional 33 years. McDowell performed a total of eight ovariotomies (oophorectomies), the last in 1826. He also performed 32 lithotomies with only one death (1641, 1642). Note: He received medical training in America and in Edinburgh.

James Wardrop (GB) established retinoblastoma as a specific type of cancer (2640).

Johann Friedrich Meckel (called the Younger) (DE) discovered that the diverticulum—Meckel’s diverticulum— is a residuum of the communication between the intestinal canal and the umbilical stalk. This finding was based upon his observations in three stillborn, full-term human fetuses (1652).

Luigi Rolando (IT) used galvanic current to stimulate the cortex of the brain and described the sulcus that separates the precentral and postcentral gyri. He noted that the most violent convulsions occurred when he stimulated the cerebellum. If he removed the cerebellum animals acted as though paralyzed. Lesions impaired motion. When the lesions were on only one side of the cerebellum, the effects were ipsilateral to the damage (2056-2058).

Francois Leuret (FR) commemorated him in 1839 by naming it the Rolandic sulcus (1493).

Marie-Jean-Pierre Flourens (FR) analyzed the cerebellum and gave a description of cerebellar ataxia (failure of muscular coordination). He concluded, “…that all movements persist after ablation of the cerebellum; all that is missing is that they are not regular and coordinated. From this, I am led to conclude that production and coordination of movements consist of two essentially distinct orders of phenomena as well; namely coordination in the cerebellum, production in the spinal cord and medulla oblongata”. His laboratory studies suggested that the cerebral cortex plays a role in visual perception (879, 880, 882). 

Francois Magendie (FR), in 1824, wrote that he had observed rotary movements in animals after unilateral cerebellar lesions. This led him to conclude that the cerebellum is responsible for the maintenance of equilibration (1567).

Jean-Baptiste Bouillaud (FR) proved that the cerebellum is a nervous center which controls diverse acts of standing, of maintaining the equilibrium, and of locomotion—in brief, the cerebellum coordinates the functions which help the animal stand and walk upright and move from one place to another (331).

Franz Joseph Gall (DE-FR) and Johann Gaspar Spurzheim (DE) provided indirect evidence that the lateral geniculate and superior colliculus are important brainstem nuclei for vision (966).

Karl Friedrich Burdach (DE) found evidence that the brain’s superior colliculus sends some neuronal projections to the lateral geniculate (428).

Theodore Hermann Meynert (FR-AT) suggested that the lateral geniculate body, the medial geniculate body, and the pulvinar all send neuronal projections to the cortex of the brain (1674).

Mieczyslaw Minkowski (CH) provided evidence for a strong linkage between the different parts of the retina, the lateral geniculate, and the striate cortex (1683).

Allan Burns (GB) described phrenic nerve palsy, a sign of thoracic aortic aneurysm and described endocarditis (429).

English country names and code elements taken from the International Organization for Standardization:

DZ = Algerian; US = American; AR = Argentinian; AU = Australian; AT = Austrian; AT/HU = Austro/Hungarian; BA = Bosnian-Herzegovinian; BE = Belgian; BR = Brazilian; GB = British; BG = Bulgarian; CM = Cameroonian; CA = Canadian; TD = Chadian; CL = Chilean; CN = Chinese; CO = Colombian; CR = Costa Rican; HR = Croatian; CU = Cuban; CY = Cypriot; CZ = Czechoslovakian; DK = Danish; NL = Dutch; EC = Ecuadorian; EG = Egyptian; EE = Estonian; ET = Ethiopian; FI = Finnish; FR = French; DE = German; GR = Greek; GT = Guatemalan; GU = Guamanian; HU = Hungarian; IS = Icelander; IN = Indian; ID = Indonesian; IR = Iranian; IQ = Iraqi; IL = Israeli; IE = Irish; IT = Italian; JP = Japanese; KE = Kenyan; KR = South Korean; KW = Kuwaiti ; LV = Latvian; LB = Lebanese; LT = Lithuanian; LU = Luxembourgian; MK= Macedonian; MG = Malagasy; MT = Maltese; MY = Malaysian; MX = Mexican; NA = Namibian; NZ = New Zealander; NG = Nigerian; NO = Norwegian; PK = Pakistani; PA = Panamanian; PE = Peruvian; PH = Filipino; PL = Polish; PT = Portuguese; PR = Puerto Rican; RO = Romanian; RU = Russian; SA = Saudi Arabian; SN = Senegalese; CS = Serbian-Montenegrin; SK = Slovakian; ZA = South African; ES = Spanish; LK = Sri Lankan; SE = Swedish; CH = Swiss; SY = Syrian; TW = Taiwanese; TH = Thai; TN = Tunisian; TR = Turkish; UG = Ugandan; UA = Ukrainian; UY = Uruguayan; VE = Venezuelan; ZW = Zimbabwean

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